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The court instructed the government attorney to seek direction in the matter.
The Gauhati High Court has recently said that the Assam government should allocate additional funds for the creation of the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Centre (VWDC), which is required for all POCSO courts in the state.
While hearing a PIL filed by Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Sampurna Behura for the implementation of directions laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Sampurna Behura v. Union of India & Ors, the division bench of Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Mitali Thakuria observed, “We feel that as the VWDC is a new facility being created under the directions of Hon'ble the Supreme Court and for the mandate of the POCSO Act, the State Government is required to release additional budget for this infrastructure.”
The court instructed the government attorney to seek direction in this matter.
In Sampurna Behura, the Supreme Court had requested that the Chief Justice of each high court to give significant consideration to establishing child-friendly and vulnerable witness courts in each district.
Senior Government Advocate D. Nath had previously submitted a letter dated 10 June 2022 in which he stated that the Deputy Secretary, Judicial Department, Government of Assam had indicated that the budget allocated to the District & Sessions Judges of the districts could be used to pay for the furniture, books and other paraphernalia required for the POCSO Courts, as well as the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Centre (VWDC).
In the meantime, the court ordered its Registry to transmit a letter to the Assam representative of UNICEF so that their input can also be considered.
The court said, “In view to widen the scope of proceedings and to ensure proper and full implementation of the directions given by the Supreme Court in the continuing writ petition being WP(C) No.473/2005 (Sampurna Behura Vs. Union of India & Ors.), we deem fit to involve the UNICEF representative of Assam in this matter.”
The court further directed the Senior Government Advocate to collect information regarding the status of utilization of funds being provided by the Central Government under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICDS).
The matter is listed again on June 8, 2023.
Case Title: Bachpan Bachao Andolan & Sampurna Behura v. The State of Assam & 4 Ors.
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