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Don’t detain children in jails, lockups, Supreme Court tells police

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Don’t detain children in jails, lockups, Supreme Court tells police

What to study?

For Prelims: About JJB and JJ Act.

For Mains: Concerns expressed, present challenges and ways to address them.

Context: The Supreme Court has made it clear that the police have no right to detain children in conflict with law in a lockup or a jail.

Observations made by the Court:

  1. A juvenile in conflict with law, if apprehended, has to be placed immediately under the care of the special juvenile police unit or a designated child welfare officer.
  2. The child has to be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).
  3. Once a child is produced before a JJB, bail is the rule. And even if, for some reason, bail is not granted, a child cannot be put behind bars. He has to be lodged either in an observation home or in a place of safety.
  4. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is meant to protect children and not detain them in jail or keep them in police custody.

Background:

The order came after the court’s attention was drawn by the recent media reports about “children being detained in police custody and tortured in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh”.

About the Juveniles Justice Act, 2015:

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 came into force in January, 2016. The Act repeals the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The JJ Act, 2015 provides for strengthened provisions for both children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law.

Key provisions:

  1. It establishes a statutory status for the Child Adoption Resources Authority (CARA). It also proposes several rehabilitation and social integration measures for institutional and non-institutional children. It provides for sponsorship and foster care as completely new measures.
  2. Mandatory registration of all institutions engaged in providing child care is required according to the Act. New offences including illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child care institutions, the use of children by militant groups, and offences against disabled children are also incorporated in the legislation.
  3. The law gives the Juvenile Justice Board the power to assess whether the perpetrator of a heinous crime aged between 16 and 18, had acted as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult.’ The board will be assisted in this process by psychologists and social experts.

Constitution and composition of JJB:

State Government constitutes Juvenile Justice Boards in the districts time to time, for exercising the powers & to discharge duties, conferred on such Boards in relation to Children in Conflict with Law under this Act and Rule.

Composition: A board should consist of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of First Class not being Chief Metropolitan Magistrate with at least three years experience and two social workers of whom at least one shall be a woman, forming a bench.

Sources: the hindu.