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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra government to probe the reasons behind crimes and why juveniles were increasingly taking to criminal activities, lamenting the rampant incidents of crime against children.

A bench of Justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni said the state must take preventive steps to minimise incidents involving juveniles as well as crime against children.

“There was a recent news report of an eight-month-old girl being sexually assaulted. The degree of degradation of one’s way of thinking is such that even an eight-month-old is not spared,” the bench said.
“Why does this happen in a society like ours that has such a rich culture and heritage?” the bench asked.
It also said that schools across the country must compulsorily impart lessons on ethics and morality to students.
“These are the first lessons we need to learn as humans. Science and technology comes after this,” the bench said.

The observations came after the bench was informed by the state government that it had constituted a Special Task Force (STF) to probe crime against children and ensure time-bound trial in such matters.

The bench said while the STF was a good initiative, it was imperative that the state study the reasons of a spike in such crimes.

“Some sort of social and psychological study needs to be done to come up with the reasons. This will allow the police to take preventive steps. We need to understand why children are being increasingly targeted, and also why more and more juveniles are participating in activities that are against the law,” the bench said.

The bench was hearing a suo moto (court taking cognisance of an issue on its own) Public Interest Litigation on constructing child-friendly courts across Maharashtra.
Appearing for the state, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the bench that he had spoken to the authorities at Delhi High Court which has a child-friendly court in its premises.

“We have decided to take Delhi as a model, and construct such court rooms across the courts in the state,” Kumbhakoni said.
In February this year, the apex court had requested chief justices of all high courts to “seriously consider” establishing child-friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts in each district.
The Bombay HC then took suo moto cognisance of the issue and began hearing the PIL.


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