The Supreme Court while setting aside the acquittal of a child rapist by the high court acknowledged that there is an urgent need for protecting the right of vulnerable witnesses while testifying in court.
WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR SUCH CENTRES?
1. Vulnerable witnesses are treated like other witnesses of the state in a criminal trial.
2. There is a fear for intimidation for the Vulnerable witnesses in the cases involving minor rape survivors or victims of sexual abuse.
3. Extensive Trauma faced by these victims in conventional courtrooms.
4. Victims often end up being ill treated.
5. Witnesses often turn hostile.
SUPREME COURT’S SUGGESTIONS/ORDER:
1. Order to setup at least two ‘Vulnerable Witnesses deposition centres’ in the jurisdiction of every high court in the country within 3 months.
2. Vulnerable victim should be encouraged to make a statement in such environment.
3. Atmosphere in such centres should be friendly.
REFERENCE USED BY SUPREME COURT:
Supreme court referred to the initiative by Delhi High Court in setting up Vulnerable witnesses deposition centres and issuance of guidelines.
Supreme Court suggested that every court should adopt the Delhi HC’s ‘Guidelines for recording the evidence of Vulnerable witnesses in Criminal Matters’ with required modifications. There are currently 4 such centres operating in Delhi. The guidelines issued by Delhi HC are also in consonance with international norms.
Here is the full text of guidelines issued by Delhi High Court: