Child-Friendly Court Process

Last updated on Apr 8, 2022

Portfolio Keyphrase: Child friendly court process

Tags: Abuse, Violence, Crime, Children, Explainer, Court, Police

[Trigger Warning: The following content contains information on sexual and physical violence which some readers may find disturbing.]

There are Special Courts set up to deal with child sexual abuse because of the sensitivity of the issue. Unlike normal Courts, these Courts are supposed to follow a special procedure to make sure that the child feels safe and comfortable.

If a child is the victim of sexual assault, the Special Court must ensure some child-friendly procedures for the child:

Ensuring the presence of familiar people through the legal process

The Court will allow the child’s family member/relative/friend or guardian to be present with them during the trial1.

Ensuring that the legal process is not strenuous for the child

The Court will:

  • Allow frequent breaks for the child during the trial2.
  • Not call the child to the Court repeatedly to testify3.
  • In special circumstances, the child need not come to Court and make statements. The Court will ask an officer of the Court to examine the child at their home. The Court can take the help of a qualified translator or interpreter or special educator when recording the child’s evidence.4
  • Try and ensure that the evidence is recorded within 30 days and the trial is completed within one year5.

Protecting the child from the accused and the public

  • The Court  must ensure that the child is not exposed to the accused in any way during the trial. However, the accused can hear the child’s statement. Some examples of how Courts do this include one-sided mirrors, curtains or through a video call5.
  • The Court must have private court proceedings so that the media cannot report about the happenings in Court6.

Questioning of a Child

Due to the sensitivity of the issue and for the  protection of the child, the lawyer of the accused is required to conduct the court process in a certain manner.

  • The lawyer cannot question the child directly. The lawyer will present the questions to the Special Court which will then question the child7.

The lawyer cannot question the character of the child, for example,  by saying that the child has a history of lying to their parents8.

  1. Section 33(4), The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.[]
  2. Section 33(3), The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.[]
  3. Section 33(5), The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.[]
  4. Section 19 and 38(1)(2), The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.[]
  5. Section 36, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.[][]
  6. Section 37, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.[]
  7. Section 33(2), The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.[]
  8. Section 33(6), The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.[]

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