17 Dec 2021 3:44 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Delhi Government to indicate the number of juveniles present in adult homes and also the number of juveniles transferred from adult jails to Juvenile Justice Homes in the last 5 years. A bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup J Bhambhani was dealing with a criminal reference concerning the implementation of the provisions of...
The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Delhi Government to indicate the number of juveniles present in adult homes and also the number of juveniles transferred from adult jails to Juvenile Justice Homes in the last 5 years.
A bench comprising 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.
Anurag Kundu, Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights highlighted the issue of children which go missing every year from the national capital. He submitted that the standing order issued by the Commissioner of Police regarding the procedure to be followed in such cases was in violation of the provisions of Juvenile Justice Act. He also pointed out that on an average, about 6000 children go missing every year from the city.
On this, the Bench questioned as to the position of the number of juveniles present in adult jails. To this, Advocate Nandita Rao appearing for the Delhi Government apprised the Court that according to the available data, the number was zero.
"How mang children have been transferred out of the adult jail and have been brought before Juvenile Justice Board? Get the data. Because I would want to have a closer look. There might be systematic reasons for this. Age determination etc, why they end up being there, there are requirements of inspection by Juvenile Justice Boards, are those happening. We will take that down. Please revert," the Bench said.
During the course of hearing today, Rao submitted that a direction may be issued to the Juvenile Justice Boards that within a period 2 weeks, they must issue rehabilitation card qua the Juveniles. According to Rao, the said form was essential as it included the process regarding review of the child, pre and post release portions and the overall progress shown by the child.
To this, the Court responded thus:
"What I notice is that there were detailed directions issued in 2012 on certain aspects of Juvenile Justice law by a division bench of this Court. The Directions seems to be a wasted exercise. Whether those are being implemented at all? You will give valuable suggestions and we will again issue directions which will come to nothing."
On the other hand, Anu Grover Baliga, Secretary of Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee raised the issue of lack of District Child Protection Officers in the city. She submitted that the District Child Protection Unit is required to have a nodal officer under Rule 85(2) of the Juvenile Justice Rules for each district.
"As of now there are only 4 of such officers in Delhi, and we have 11 districts," Baliga submitted.
"Don't ask us to appoint another officer. I agree that if the officers who are there were performing their jobs, then all this would not be necessary. If we Appoint another officer and he also doesn't do his job, then we will be at the same point. Back to square one. Tell us what is within the Rules, within the provisions, what is not being implemented, first thing we will do an audit, call for database call for information, if its being implemented. If not then we will nudge them in that direction," the Court said at the outset.
At the outset, the Court was informed that advertisements were published by the Government for filling up the vacancy posts of District Child Protection Officers and that the interviews were ongoing for both DCPOs and their juniors.
The Court therefore directed that the shortfall regarding the 7 remaining DCPOs will have to be supplied within a period of 6 weeks.
Furthermore, Rao also suggested towards creation of a directory including details of education and vocational training facilities, governmental or non governmental, available in the city which may be circulated to the Boards.
Accordingly, the Court directed that the Delhi Government, in conjunction with DSLSA and DCPCR create such a directory and circulate it to all Juvenile Justice Boards. It added that the two organisations can also assist the government in preparing the said directory.
The Court also directed that every observation home will ensure that there is a psychologist available either as a permanent employee or through the aegis of an NGO.
Senior Advocate H.S. Phoolka, Amicus Curiae in the matter also suggested that legal camps are organized in observation homes along with creation of a performa in Hindi language mentioning rights of children in conflict with law which will be handed over to such children when produced.
Accordingly, the Court directed that the Juvenile Justice Board will handover a list of rights of children in conflict with law whenever the child is first produced before the Juvenile Justice Board.
Concluding the hearing, the Court said that it will pass a detailed order setting out appropriate directions in the matter.
The matter will now be heard on January 21.
Earlier, the Court had 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