As the proceedings in the last item heard by him came to a close at Court No.2 on Friday, Justice J.Chelameswar, shared a personal episode from his life, with the counsel, who drew his attention to the need for training Judges in the lower judiciary, and make them sensitive to the letter and spirit of the Juvenile Justice Act. “Many of them treat minors as accused”, the counsel, Abhishek Bharti, complained to him.
“We are trying to find fault with individuals; let us do something about the system”, Justice Chelameswar observed, sitting with Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul. Stating that the bench understood the problem of the counsel, Justice Chelameswar, asked what was the standing of the counsel in the Bar.
When Bharti replied he has been practising for the past six years, Justice Chelameswar, recalled an episode from his life, way back in 1976, when, as a grandchild, he had the responsibility to get an affidavit in connection with the Will of his grandfather, attested by the magistrate. A senior lawyer took the young Chelameswar to a first class magistrate, for the purpose. The magistrate, who offered him some tea, told him: “As a matter of policy, he does not attest affidavits”. Asking what was the policy here which the magistrate was referring to, Justice Chelameswar said, if the magistrate suspected whether it was indeed his signature, he could have asked the senior lawyer, whom he knew, and whose oral certificate, must have been sufficient to satisfy him. But he didn’t. “If you suspect the AG, it is the end of the story”, Justice Chelameswar observed, before concluding the proceedings.
The case, heard by the bench, pertained to rehabilitation of 18 minor girls, who were rescued from alleged trafficking by their so-called parents and husbands, in Maharashtra. The custody of these girls was handed over to the claimants by the Child Welfare Committee in Nandurbar, pursuant to the orders of the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition No.325 of 2017 on August 24.
In view of the material available on record, the bench had doubts regarding the welfare of the minor children, if their custody is given to persons claiming to be their custodians. Therefore, the bench deemed it appropriate to direct that once the children are produced, a further enquiry be conducted into the aspect of the matter by the Principal District Judge, Aurangabad, in accordance with the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.
The bench directed that as and when these children are produced before the Registrar, Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court, they should be handed over to the custody of the petitioner-organisation, Rescue Foundation, pending final enquiry into the question regarding the appropriate final arrangement as to their custody.