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Sponsor: International Justice Mission and Justice & Care
One of the theme areas that this Centre for Police Studies and Public Security is focusing on is Trafficking Crimes in India. In the response to trans-border human trafficking (HT), which is now happening in large numbers, one of the issues faced by the justice delivery agencies and the law enforcement agencies is that the repatriated victim is reluctant to come back to the Indian court of law to depose in the court and give evidence against the accused due to various reasons. Therefore, the court trial of such cases face a serious challenge. Many criminals have been discharged or acquitted for want of the evidence of the key witness, i.e. the victim, who did not return from abroad.
As regards the crimes in India, the law provides for video conferencing to facilitate this process and, thereby, victims' rights and protection are being ensured. The matter came up a few years before the Special Court in Mumbai, where the victim was repatriated to Nepal a few years back. She was a child when she was trafficked, she stayed in India for a few years, and was eventually repatriated where she got married and had also given birth to a child from her wedlock. Quite naturally, she refused to come to Mumbai to appear in the trial court. At the same time, her coming in was important as the traffickers were in custody and she was the key witness, perhaps the sole witness in the crime of trafficking from Nepal to India. The Special Court trying crimes under ITPA at Mumbai was looking for options to get this witness. Then came an innovation sponsored by the Presiding Officer of the Trial Court for transfer of evidence through video conferencing. The stakeholders got together and planned for video conferencing (VC) with the Trial Court in Mumbai, and with the victim deposing from Kathmandu, the case ended in conviction. The administrative permission for this video conference facility was given by the Bombay High Court. This was a pioneering experiment in this field of trans-border transfer of evidence through video conferencing.
The Centre for Police Studies and Public Security alongwith Maharahshtra State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA), Justice and Care and International Justice Mission coalated a Standard Operating Procedures on Inter Jurisdictional Transfer of Evidence in Trafficking Crimes Through: Video Conferencing. The drafting team consisted of Vivan Gandhi and Megan Fernandes from International Justice Mission, Nancy Sara Rajan from Justice and Care, Yatin Game from Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA) and Sumati Thusoo from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. The SOP was launched by the former Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Justice Manjula Chellur on 18th November, 2017 at Maharashtra Judicial Academy. The SOP has been circulated to all High Courts and Judicial officers. It is also being sent to all Police officers across India with the aim of transforming the victim witness protection mechanisms across India and even abroad.
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