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The Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act 2013 was passed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature in the year 2013 mainly to incorporate the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC).This is an international standard, which is legally binding treaty, ratified by India in 1992. The Central Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act was amended from time to time to incorporate the international standards on the protection of Children and the present Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act 2015 is the most extensive law on the protection and welfare of children.

The preamble of the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act 2013 clearly states the objectives of the Act. These are specified as- “providing for the proper care, protection and treatment by catering to their development needs and by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of the matters in the best interest of the children and for their ultimate rehabilitation through various institutions established under this enactment.

When we look at the preamble, it invokes the constitutional provisions, the UN standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 (the Beijing Rules), the UN Rules for the protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990) all other relevant international instruments.

The preamble of the Juvenile Justice Act as well as the Constitution of India and above all UNCRC provides a strong basis for Social Audit. The Beijing Rules, for example, aim to further the well being of the Juvenile and his/her family, develop conditions that will ensure that will ensure that will ensure that the juvenile has meaningful role in the community, foster a process of personal development free from crime and delinquency and finally mobilize all resources and community support to reduce the need for intervention under the law.

Social accounting is a systematic assessment and reporting on those parts of organization’s activities, which have a social impact. It refers to the identification, measurement, recording and reporting the information as to social activities of the concern to its users (both internal and external). On the other hand, social audit refers to the systematic evaluation of an organization’s social performance. Here, its economic performance is not considered. It discloses the organization’s involvement in socially oriented activities, activities taken for the well-being of the employers of the concern, activities as to prevention of environment from pollution etc.

The UN convention on the Rights of the Child provides for minimum standards for how children should be treated. Article 4 of the Convention requires that all state parties to the convention shall see to it that the laws and rules of the country correspond to the convention and they shall undertake all appropriate measures for the practical implementation of these rights. Social Audit therefore provides a means to identify how this Article has been implemented and whether the State in India is genuinely an ally of marginalized and excluded children in society.

The Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act 2013 under Article 37 states that “the Government may monitor and evaluate the functioning of the Children’s homes at such period and through such persons and institutions as may be specified by the Government.”

The Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Rules 2014 under Rule 61 also provides a provision for Social Audit under which the Government shall constitute a Social Audit Authority to carry out the Social Audit under Section 37 of the Act of 2013 and issue a notification for laying down the schedule for entire process throughout the year.

The Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act 2013 provides for Social Accountability systems to be set up in the Administration of Juvenile Justice System by providing for social audits to be undertaken by the State Government.

Social Audit is becoming a reality now as recently the National Commission for the protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) issued an Authority letter to the states for carrying out the Social Audit of child care institutions in all the State/ Union Territories. This was started in compliance of Para 62(11) of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court issued on 5th May 2017 in the matter of “Exploitation of Children in orphanages in the State of Tamil Nadu Vs UOI & Ors [W.P(C) No.102 of 2017].” In the backdrop of these directions National Commission for the Protection Child Rights (NCPCR) has taken up the task for conducting social audit for child care institutions under the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 (Central Act).

There is now an urgent need to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the Executive in this arena if we are to get a clearer picture of whether such justice is being done to children who most need it.

(The writer is Nodal Officer, training and capacity building at Integrated Child Protection Scheme, J&K)

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