Supreme Court decides on cost bearing of ‘Remote Point Coordinator’ to record Testimonies by Child Witness/Victims

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Shivani Gadhavi

Published On: January 25, 2022 at 16:38 IST

The Supreme Court of India asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to bear the honorarium cost to the ‘Remote Point Coordinator’ in regards with the issue of virtual recording of Testimonies of children who are Witnesses or Victims in cases Human Trafficking.

Earlier on January 15, 2022 a draft of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was circulated by Amicus Curiae, Gaurav Agarwal who is the Chairperson of District Legal Services Authority (DLSA). The Draft noted that in matters of virtual recordings of Testimonies by Child Victims/Witnesses, there can be appointment of a retired Judicial Officer as a ‘Remote Point Coordinator’ in a Case.

In this regard, no proper mechanism or directions have been given as to who will bear the cost of the ‘Remote Point Coordinator’. Several High Courts have sought an intervention and clarification by the Supreme Court for this complication.

The Counsel for the Petitioner, Senior Advocate Anitha Shenoy, stated that the Draft of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in relation with the virtual recordings has been given to all State High Courts and State Governments. The Counsel pointed out that almost all the High Court have agreed with the manner through which virtual recordings can be conducted as described in the Draft SOP.

The Counsel for the Petitioner presented it in front of the Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai that only the matter of honorarium payment to the ‘Remote Point Coordinator’ is left to be discussed and not described in the Draft SOP.

The Amicus Curiae, Gaurav Agarwal in this regard representing the NALSA sought directions from the Apex Court and stated “The first part can be implemented. Getting all the details where video conferencing exists, putting it on the website. For the other issue your lordships can pass an Order against me to find out that NALSA will figure out modes of how it can be worked out.”

The Supreme Court Bench after hearing all the arguments and statements has kept the date of next hearing in May, 2022.

Also read: What is Witness Protection Scheme?

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