The Indian Supreme Court (SC) has asked the government to set up a panel of experts to review the “unacceptable” practice of making children witness “unlawful” confessions by parents in custody cases.
The apex court, which has repeatedly been accused of not following the law, said a panel could help the state tackle the problem, especially with children who have been abused by their parents.
The SC said the panel would be constituted by the government and the panel will be headed by a justice of the high court.
The government has not yet responded to the petition.
The court, in its order on Monday, said the child witness protection law (SCJPL) was not followed and that children “are not entitled to any rights of witness” in cases of “unfounded and unlawful” confessions made by parents.
The court also pointed out that parents who are accused of rape, molestation and child abuse were also allowed to have witnesses to the crime.
It also said the parents of children in custody have the right to file complaints with the police against the alleged offenders.
It said a child witness is not a “person”, but a “particular person”.
The SCJPL, which is under the government’s Right to Information Act, requires parents to provide the names of the children they are alleged to have abused in custody and details of the crimes.
Parents can also provide “evidence” of the alleged offences if they so choose.
It has been widely criticised for not following guidelines on how to handle such cases.
The SC has also asked the police and the police watchdog to probe the cases.
Last week, the government said the SC should not interfere in the police investigations, and that there was no need to review it.
The Supreme Court is currently reviewing the death of two minors, one from Punjab, the other from Karnataka, who died under mysterious circumstances after being held captive for seven days by their family.
The three have not been named.