The Supreme Court judge, who is next in the line to become CJI, says if all cases of sexual abuse of children were to get reported, it would be “a mortifying shock”.
New Delhi: The justice system in India needs a “complete overhaul”, said Supreme Court judge Ranjan Gogoi Friday, expressing concern at the increasing cases of child sexual abuse across the country.
Gogoi was addressing the audience at an event in Delhi to launch a book – Every Child Matters – by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi.
“Recently, (Kailash) Satyarthi-ji termed the rise in cases of sexual abuse of children as a national emergency. I cannot say if child sexual abuse has become any more rampant in the last few months than it earlier was, because…I believe, if all cases of sexual abuse of children were to really get reported, we would be in for a mortifying shock,” Gogoi said.
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“But, at the least, the last few months have pressed us to see how urgent a need it is,” the judge added.
Gogoi, who is next in the line to become the Chief Justice of India, said a small “tweak here and a tweak there” is not enough and the justice delivery system requires a complete overhaul.
“A tweak here and a tweak there in the law to pacify the agitated mood is just a sop. And then there are the harrowing long-drawn battles in the court,” he observed.
“It is no secret that the justice delivery system is begging for a complete overhaul. But, when will it come is anybody’s guess,” Justice Gogoi said.
The book is a compilation of Satyarthi’s writings and interviews that highlight his continuing efforts to create safe childhood.
“I would like to hope, more than anything else, that the book will serve as a timely nudge that we are in serious need of to wake up from our inertia and ask some uncomfortable questions,” said Gogoi.
“The chief of them being do we even reconcile with Satyarthiji’s proposal, in the first place? Do we even agree that every child matters?,” he asked.
Talking about the issue of child labour in the country, Gogoi said, “About 18 million children are adolescents in India and still out of school. A direct consequence of that is, India has the highest number of child workers in the world.”
Gogoi also spoke about child rights and how the legal theory of child rights is still very underdeveloped.
“Rights of the children need to be understood to be an absolute norm that must blossom to its fullest,” he opined.
“As a separate class of citizens, children and especially those who have been economically and socially excluded, are not seen as entities that could contribute to governance in a democracy. It is, therefore, not surprising to see that the child rights jurisprudence (theory) is still grossly underdeveloped,” he added.
Satyarthi said his Nobel Prize brought a lot of attention on the issue of protection of child rights. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, which he shared with Pakistani child rights activist Malala Yousafzai.
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