MSCPCR organises training programme for Judges

On 25 March 2018, judicial officers in six divisions across Maharashtra met for a special State Level Convention hosted by the Maharashtra State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) in association with International Justice Mission (IJM). The objective of the convention was to bring attention to the protection of child rights within the justice delivery system.

The Convention is the brainchild of Mr. Pravin Ghuge, Chairperson of MSCPCR in the light of the recent Supreme Court judgment in Sampurna Behura vs. Union of India. Mr. Ghuge decided to partner with IJM to organise the conference across six divisions in Maharashtra.

On Sunday 25 March over 600 members of the judiciary, Juvenile Justice Boards, government officials and other stakeholders participated in the convention hosted at Konkan Division, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Pune, Nashik and Amravati. The aim of the convention was to bring an opportunity for convergence amongst participating presiding officers of Children Courts, Special Courts under The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, (POCSO) and Chairman/Members of Juvenile Justice Board under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJA) in Maharashtra, to discuss the implementation and interaction of the provisions of law to ensure sustainable protection of child victims of sexual offences and the effective prosecution of the perpetrators.

In Mumbai, Mr. Ghuge welcomed the participants, resource people and dignitaries, urging them to use this as an opportunity to build the system for the protection of children. Former Judge of the Bombay High Court and former Chairman of the Juvenile Justice Committee, Mr. V Kanade, explained how judicial activism could protect children, as he addressed the gathering. Judge SC Dharmadhikari of the Bombay High Court, who is currently the Chairman of the Juvenile Justice Committee urged everyone to “see the face of our own children in every child we come across”. Special Inspector General of Police, (PAW) Mr. Qaiser Khalid and DCP Mr. Pravin Patil addressed the legalities and concerns arising in PoCSO cases. Advocate Pooja Kute shared her experiences in the session on the Protection of Children through Law. The day ended with a session on the Role of the Government in the Protection of Child Rights by District Officer of the DWCD Thane, Mr. Santosh Bhosle, who provided a comprehensive view on the topic. The sessions were interactive with Judges from Special Courts and DWCD officers sharing their experiences and learnings.

The Supreme Court in Sampurna Behura v. Union of India on 9 February 2018, took a long hard look at how this country treats its children, particularly those who come through the legal system. The Apex Court concluded that “it is time for the State to strongly and proactively acknowledge that, children in our country have fundamental rights and human rights and they need to be enforced equally strongly.”

The Convention comprised of trainings through discussions that were conducted by 30 resource people comprising members of the Judiciary, high ranking police officials and experts from the field from across the six divisions. Through the sessions appropriate solutions were identified and proposed for the benefit of the practitioners of the law.

“The Convention has set the ground to develop a forum for members of the judiciary across the various courts and committees to share best practices. We are honoured to partner with the MSCPCR to better provisions for child protection in the State,” said Sanjay Macwan, Regional Director, IJM India. Pravin Ghuge, Chairperson of the MSCPCR, reiterated the need for the Convention by saying, “Children are victims of numerous crimes primarily those related to sexual offences and trafficking, it is thus necessary for the Judiciary to treat them with the necessary care and protection in order for them to recover from their trauma.”