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New Delhi,  (PTI) The Supreme Court Monday asked the Centre to apprise it on whether observation homes, where minors in conflict with the law were kept, and juvenile justice boards (JJBs) are equipped with the video-conferencing facility.

Referring to the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, the bench said: “The Act mandates that observation home should be there in every district. It is better to have a home which is properly maintained and have video conferencing facility.”

In the long run, it will be cheaper for the states and also comfortable for children, it said, adding, “You do not need to take a child 200 kilometer just to attend JJB”.

Passing a slew of directions, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also asked all the trial courts across the country to consider the possibility of pruning the list of witnesses, in consultation with public prosecutor and defence counsel.

The bench said that in cases of petty offences, principle of ‘bail not jail’ should be liberally applied by the trial courts and in cases where accused was poor, the they should look into question of grant of bail in a sympathetic manner.

It said trial courts should also consider releasing poor under-trials on personal or bail bonds of the limited amount.

The bench asked the trial courts to consider the application of section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which deals with the power to postpone or adjourn proceedings, and ensure that when a witness appears before the court, he or she should be examined.

The court passed these directions while hearing a matter related to deficiencies in jails as highlighted by two apex court judges (one of them has retired) during their visit to Faridabad jail and an observation home in June this year.

The bench said that video-conferencing facility in JJBs and observation homes has to be there as it would be cheaper for the states and also comfortable for the minors.

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