Srinagar: Taking notice of two infants abandoned at GB Pant hospital here, the high court on Tuesday directed the state government to ensure that the babies with neurological disorders are not “abandoned or handed over to any person, authority or organisation which is not registered.”
A division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and BS Walia also directed the medical superintendent of GB Pant hospital to take all necessary steps for looking after these two infants.
The directions by the court followed a submission by advocate Shah Faisal, representing a Haryana-based social worker, Tanvi Ahuja, who has filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking among others directions for constitution of juvenile justice boards (JJBs) in the state.
Advocate Faisal referred to media reports about the abandoned infants who are presently admitted in Neonatal Intensive Care hospital (NICU) at the hospital.
A baby girl on Saturday evening was abandoned at the hospital by burqa-clad women. Another ‘unclaimed child’ who is in the NICU since more than 15 days is a boy. This one-month-old boy was brought in by Nowhatta police who found him on the stairs of Makhdoom Sahab shrine. Both of the babies have birth defects.
In another direction, the court directed additional advocate general Shahbaz Sikander to provide copy of the status report filed by Commissioner Secretary to Social Welfare Department regarding the constitution of JJBs in the state to senior AAG N A Beigh. In turn, the court asked Beigh to take up the matter with Registrar General of the High Court and file a status report before the registry by next date of hearing in the PIL.
The Commissioner Secretary said in the report that the matter regarding Judicial Magistrate to act as Principal Magistrate for the Juvenile Justice Boards at District Level was taken up by Law Department with Registrar General of the high court. The Registrar in turn has informed that Judicial Magistrates are being imparted necessary training by the state judicial academy.
“The judicial magistrates,’ one in each district, shall be nominated as principal magistrates under Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act.”
The court also directed the Commissioner Secretary Social Welfare Department, to appear in person before the Court on next date of hearing posted in week commencing from March 28.
On last of hearing, the high court had termed as ‘unsatisfactory’ the Social Welfare Department’s response that it has taken up the matter regarding constitution of JJBs with the state’s law department for onward appointment of the chairman and the two members of these boards.
Last year, the court had directed the government to constitute the JJBs by December 28, observing that the purpose of enacting Juvenile Justice Act in the state “stands frustrated” due non compliance of the legislation.
“One of the essential purpose of legislating laws is to reintegrate the children who are in conflict with laws and who need care and protection within society,” the court had observed and directed the government to comply with provisions of the J&K Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013 and Rules of 2014.
The state enacted the Act in 2013 and as per its Chapter-II, the Juvenile Justice Board shall consist of a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class to be appointed by the High Court and be designated Principal Magistrates and two social workers as members, one of whom must be a woman.
In the PIL, Ahuja has stated that thousands of juveniles were arrested over the years under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Ranbir Penal Code instead of being tried under the state Juvenile Justice Act.