Justice Madan B Lokur, Judge Supreme Court of India today inaugurated 2-day State Roundtable Conference on Implementation of Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)Act 2013 at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) here.
The Conference is being jointly organized by Juvenile Justice Committee of the Supreme Court of India and Juvenile Justice Committee of JK High Court and supported by UNICEF.
Speaking on the occasion Justice Lokur stressed the need to implement J&K Juvenile Justice Act -2013 in letter and spirit and called upon all the stakeholders to work in tandem to set up Juvenile Justice Boards, Child Welfare Committees, Advisory Boards and Observation Homes which are a prerequisite for the effective implementation of the Act.
He said children are the future of society and its duty of the society to take care of juveniles. He said the children who are in conflict with the law need to be counseled, rehabilitated and reintegrated with the society.
Justice Lokur said the J&K Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013 is a robust effective and responsive legislative framework for children who are in need of care and protection as well as children in conflict with the law. He said the approach of the executive and the judicial system should be aimed at addressing the vulnerabilities of the children and ensuring their rehabilitation adding that the idea behind rehabilitation is that people are not born criminals , thus should be given a chance to be restored and reintegrated with society.
The Supreme Court Judge called for addressing the shortcomings in the Act for its effective implementation. He said the Act is still in infancy in the state and J&K has enough lessons to learn from other states who have already implemented similar laws and learn from the shortcomings in the other states to rectify their own. He said if the required infrastructure expected by the Act and Rules is available, there is no doubt that the statuary functionaries will be able to put in place appropriate remedial measures.
He further stated that by placing oriented and interested judicial officers and professional social workers in place in the Juvenile Justice Boards, substantial progress can be made in our mission of rehabilitating children in conflict with the law.
Justice Lokur said during the two day conference experts will discuss issues and problems that come forward during effective implementation of the Act. He said the conference will help to come up with the solutions and a roadmap to move forward for its timely and effective implementation.
Chief Justice J&K High Court Badar Durrez Ahmed while speaking on the occasion said the law enforcing agencies need to be extra cautious and sensitive in J&K while dealing with the Juveniles as the children in state have been brought up in a very violent atmosphere that has affected their mental as well as the physical growth. He said the juveniles have to be treated differently and the one dealing with juveniles should have great understanding and extra sensitive towards the children.
Stating that the children are the backbone of human civilization and shall shape its destiny in future, J&K Chief Justice said regardless of the political, economic or social philosophy of a government, welfare of the children is of the utmost importance and must be given top priority.
While identifying that in the disturbed socio-political climate of J&K, the problem is magnified; Chief Justice stressed on the state government to adopt effective and proactive measures to, not only rehabilitate the juveniles who do come into conflict with law, but also prevent juveniles from coming into conflict with the law.
He said the judiciary has played vital role in sensitizing all the stakeholders by bringing them together and in identifying workable solutions in order to trigger changes at the ground level.
In his welcome address Chairman J&K Juvenile Justice Board Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said though the Juvenile Justice Act is intact in the state, still we are struggling to realize the dream of setting up of child friendly institutions. He said the state has to contemplate the legal response with respect to two categories of children including those who are in conflict with law and those in need of care and protection. He said to achieve the objectives of the Act there is dire need for creation of institutions including Juvenile Justice Boards, Childcare Institutions, Special Juvenile Justice Police Units etc.
Justice Magrey pinned hope upon the two-day conference that it will sensitize all the stakeholders, particularly the state departments and hoped that a strong will power will emerge for creation of physical framework in support of the juvenile justice system in the state.
Chief Child Protection UNICEF India, Javier Aguilar while speaking during the inaugural session said the UNICEF is committed to work with the existing systems to ensure rights of the children especially their protection from various forms of abuse, exploitation, neglect, discrimination and any form of violence. He said UNICEF has made a modest beginning with the State government, judiciary, academia, civil society and other stakeholders. He said efforts are underway to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated system is established in the state in order to ensure children have access to justice, services and support as guaranteed under constitution of J&K and various other special laws applicable to the state.
Director General of J&K Police SP Vaid while addressing the technical session said J&K is in dire need of an effective Juvenile Justice System adding that police officers who deal with juveniles are being trained to have soft skills while dealing with them.
He said steps are being taken to implement the Act and set up Special Juvenile Police units in 199 Police stations with District Superintendent of Police in-charge, and one inspector in each district to head the unit. He said in each police station, they have appointed a Child Welfare Officer who will contribute towards proper handling of Juvenile related cases.
He, however, said that if the Act has to be implemented in the right spirit, there should be a devoted team of officers as the Police officers are overburdened with other responsibilities.
Commissioner for Persons with Disability Mohammad Iqbal Lone also addressed the gathering and presented a detailed presentation of the steps being taken by the government for the implementation of the Act.
During the Technical Sessions, experts presented detailed presentations on different aspects of the Juvenile Justice Act and gave their suggestions with regard to the effective implementation of the Act.
Other who were present in the conference include Judges of the JK High Court, Justice R Sudhakar, Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, Justice Alok Aradhe, Justice D S Thakur, Justice Tashi Rabistan, Justice Janak Raj Kotwal, Justice B L Walia, Justice Sanjeev Kumar, Justice M K Hanjura and Justice Sanjay Kumar Gupta, Judges of the subordinate courts, Secretary Law, Special DGP VK Singh, Academicians from various universities and law schools, Police Officers, Social workers and volunteers.