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Juveniles Detained In Adult Jails: Delhi High Court To Consider Streamlining Process Of Assessing Age Of Arrestee When Brought To Police Station

Nupur Thapliyal
2 Feb 2022 2:45 PM GMT
Juveniles Detained In Adult Jails: Delhi High Court To Consider Streamlining Process Of Assessing Age Of Arrestee When Brought To Police Station
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Noting that there was an alarming number of about 800 juveniles or children in conflict with law who were detained in adult jails in Tihar in the past five years, the Delhi High Court is set to consider streamlining the process of assessing the age of an arrestee when brought to a police station. The Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup J Bhambhani was dealing with a...

Noting that there was an alarming number of about 800 juveniles or children in conflict with law who were detained in adult jails in Tihar in the past five years, the Delhi High Court is set to consider streamlining the process of assessing the age of an arrestee when brought to a police station.

The Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup J Bhambhani was dealing with a criminal reference concerning the implementation of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

Certain questions of law were placed by a Principal Magistrate of a Juvenile Justice Board concerning the circumstances when a child in conflict with law also happens to be a child in need of care and protection.

The development came after the bench had in it's previous hearing asked the Delhi Government to indicate the number of juveniles present in adult jails and also the number of juveniles transferred from adult jails to Juvenile Justice Homes in the last 5 years.

Indicate Number Of Juveniles In Adult Homes & Those Transferred From Adult Jails To JJ Homes In Last 5 Years: High Court Asks Delhi Govt

During the course of hearing on January 21, perusing the data placed on record by the Delhi Government, the Court said:

"The total (number of cases) adds-up to an alarming number of about 800 such cases. The question therefore is, as to whether and if so what, further directions are required from this court to streamline the process of assessing the age of an arrestee, at the very first step when the person is brought to a police station."

At the outset, the counsels had made some suggestions to deal with the said issue, one of which was the implementation of the NALSA Scheme for Para-Legal Volunteers which provides for the presence of paralegal volunteers in police stations, to apprise arrestees of their legal rights.

Other suggestion was addition of certain entries in an Arrest Memo to incorporate the verified age of an arrestee.

It was also suggested that measures be included to ensure compliance by all Magistrates of the mandate of sec. 9(1) and 9(4) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 so that in the intervening period, when an arrestee's claim of being 'juvenile' is being enquired into, such person is housed in a place of safety.

As the hearing remained inconclusive, the same was adjourned to January 27 when it could not be heard due to unavailability of amicus curiae Advocate H. S. Phoolka. The matter will now be heard on February 10.

The Court had earlier issued slew of directions to the Juvenile Justice Boards as well as the Delhi Government for streamlining the functioning of the juvenile justice delivery system under the Act and Juvenile Justice Rules, 2016.

The Court had also issued directions for streamlining the process of inquiries relating to juveniles in conflict with law and scrupulous compliance by all authorities.

It had directed that all cases alleging petty offences against children or juveniles in conflict with law, where the inquiry has been pending and remains inconclusive for a period longer than one year, regardless of whether such child or juvenile has been produced before the Juvenile Justice Boards in Delhi, shall stand terminated with immediate effect.

The Court noted that the long pendency of cases was due to pandemic, where children were not produced before the JJ Boards. It was understood by the stakeholders that the time of 04 months stipulated in section 14 would begin to run only after the date of first production of the child before the JJB, hundreds of matters relating even to petty offences have been languishing at various stages for much longer than 04 months.

Case Title: COURT ON ITS OWN MOTION v. STATE

Click Here To Read Order 


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