Rashid Paul

HC asks govt to explore possibility of setting up more observation homes for child delinquents

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Srinagar, May 16: The J&K High Court Thursday directed the State government to examine the possibility of setting up more observation homes to facilitate production of children (in conflict with law) before the Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs).

The respondents shall examine the possibility of setting up more observation homes to facilitate production of children before the JJBs, directed the High Court while hearing a matter related to abuse of rights of the children who are in conflict with law.

The High Court further directed the authorities to look into the possibility of setting up these homes in appropriate rented premises.

The court asked the concerned officers to file a tabulated report showing implementation of the earlier directions passed in the matter.

“The Mission Director, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), Kashmir, shall ensure that postings of officers are fairly affected in the agency,” directed the court.

The matter has been listed on 30th of this month.

According to the petitioners, the children in the conflict-torn region of Jammu and Kashmir are consistently being detained, mostly in stone-pelting and other anti-government cases by the police. They are treated as adults and lodged in detention centers and jails along with adults and persons with criminal track record.

Their cases are being heard by the regular criminal courts under customary proceedings, in complete violation of the law, they say.

Numerous children have been booked under various first information reports that are “vaguely drafted”. These “open FIRs”, as they are often called in local phraseology, give the police arbitrary power to continuously book juveniles under different first information reports in case they manage to get bail from court, say human rights campaigners.

However, with the intervention of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and lobbying by human rights bodies, the government over the time has shown some signs of implementing the juvenile justice regime.

The State government, under the guidance of the High Court, has made certain efforts for implementation of J-K Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013, with a special focus on children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.

It has put in place the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and the Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) in all the 22 districts of the state.

Required infrastructure and manpower support is being provided to make these institutions vibrant which would pave way for the better justice delivery mechanism for these children, says the government.

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