The Supreme Court on Monday directed the respective High Courts to implement the Draft SOP for recording testimony of child witnesses at remote points.
The Apex Court was hearing a Suo Motu case about children who have been adversely affected by the pandemic by losing either one or both the parents, more than 70,000 of these children have been identified to live in Delhi alone.
The Apex Court had previously examined the draft SOP for recording testimony of child witnesses at remote point and sought the responses of various High Courts. No High Courts have expressed any objections in implementation of the draft SOP.
The court directed the Remote Point Coordinators (RPCs) to adopt child friendly practices during the examination of the witness and ascertained that RPCs be paid Rs 1500 per day.
Amicus Curie Gaurav Agarwal, who also represents NALSA submitted the following:
• NALSA will pay Rs. 1500 per day to RPCs, whenever their services are required for purpose of examining child witnesses through video conferencing.
• NALSA will provide legal assistance to the child witness on the day he/she comes for examination, if not already represented by an advocate.
• NALSA will list the availability of V.C at District Legal Services Authority offices on its website, whilst also giving the name and details of RPCs available.
The Apex Court appreciated the steps taken by NALSA in strengthening the VC mechanism in DLSA in UP, Bihar, West Bengal Orissa & Assam.
On the previous date of hearing the Supreme Court had directed all the District Magistrates to involve Special Juvenile Police Units (SJPUs), District Legal Service Authority (DLSA), and voluntary organizations in the identification and rehabilitation of children in street situations, adversely hit by COVID-19 pandemic, without any further delay.
The Court further instructed the DMs to upload the information at all stages on the web portal of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
The Court had also directed the states with the guidance of NCPCR to formulate a policy for rehabilitation after they have been identified and asked them to file a status report within three weeks.