Welcome to a court with a difference. Though the procedures and proceedings and even the holidays of this court resembles those in a conventional court, the judge, the accused and the appellants are all kids and that is what makes it exceptional. This children’s court is functioning in Sneha Bhavan, the home for the destitute children in Palluruthy, in Cochin, managed by the Salesians of Don Bosco in association with the Corporation of Cochin. Here the children are given a chance to grow and integrate themselves into society by preventing them from being helpless and exploited.
This innovative law enforcement mechanism make them law abiding citizens from a very early age according to Fr. Sunny, the director of the institution. There is also a CID and police too( kid’s versions of course:) attached to the court. The kids of the institution don the roles of the magistrate, the bench clerk and advocates for both the accused and the petitioner. When the ‘judge’, K K Siju donning a black gown took his seat, pin drop silence descended on to the hall and everybody waited anxiously to hear the verdict. The case was that of a missing bath towel, which the judge promptly handed over to the CID to crack!
Some of the common complaints include leaving the dining table shabby after lunch or leaving the dinner plates unwashed, which are considered grave mistakes that could invite the maximum penalty of negative 5 points and the accused slapped with this punishment will always have a chance to place a mercy petition before the director. There are no harsh punishments unlike in the normal courts and this is what makes the children’s court really exceptional. The normal punishments include keeping the erring kids off the games for 1 hour or restraining the kids from watching TV. The kids can always seek pardon from the other boy and very often their quarrels are short lived and simple.
Bagging positive points for the good deeds come with lots of goodies and privileges. Kids who could manage to earn 75 points or more will be entitled for a joy ride in the AC Volvo buses to the airport and watching a movie in the plush multiplex of a popular mall. No wonder, kids vie to bag as many positive points as they could to enjoy the best weekend outing options on the offer and to encourage the other boys to emulate the good deeds. There is no criminal tendency in the kids of Snehabhavan and they coexist peacefully and happily; thanks to the vigilant kid’s court that has been functioning for years now!