New Delhi, December 1: The Supreme Court on Tuesday laid down the first step for sparing children and victims of trafficking the trauma of travelling long distances, often to courts located in the very places of their suffering, to testify as witnesses in trial.

A Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao agreed with the recommendation of its amicus curiae, advocate Gaurav Agrawal, to provide secure and in-camera videoconferencing facilities to human trafficking victims, many of whom may be living in remote places in other States, The Hindu reported.

The Bench directed the States of Assam, West Bengal and Rajasthan to kick-off a ‘pilot project’ and implement the Agarwal’s recommendations in at least one district each.

The court said though the pandemic triggered the need to find an alternative way for children and other vulnerable victims to testify in court as witnesses, Agrawal’s practical suggestion hardly involves huge costs and could be made a permanent norm for recording the testimonies of children/victims of human trafficking in cases which are of inter-State, inter-city or inter-district jurisdiction.

The court further directed other States to provide information relating to the number of children/victims of human trafficking who are required to depose in courts at places outside their native States.

Meanwhile, the court suggested that the video conferencing facility could be set up at a government building at the nearest point of choice convenient for the victims/children to testify. Agrawal offered to discuss with the legal services authorities of various States to draw up a list of retired judicial officers with experience in such cases to act as “remote point coordinators”.

The court listed the case for further hearing in January.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-takes-maiden-step-for-virtual-testimony-of-trafficking-victims/article33224681.ece

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