Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to furnish a plan of action regarding the care and rehabilitation of unclaimed and abandoned children.
The court said, “Abandoned children have come to our notice. Government has to provide them care and support.”
The court directed the state government to file a status report regarding the action plan on the next date of hearing.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on juvenile justice, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey remarked that children’s welfare homes are the need of the hour and sought a fresh status report from authorities.
For implementation of Juvenile Justice Act in the state, the court had previously called for the establishment of Juvenile Justice Boards in 22 districts of the state.
The government had agreed to constitute the Boards but said that it should be done in q phased manner.
In the first phase, the government said, eight Juvenile Justice Boards would be set up, three in Kashmir valley, three in Jammu division, and one each in Leh and in Kargil districts.
In Kashmir division, the three boards are to be set up in Anantnag, Baramulla and Srinagar districts.
The court said on Wednesday, “We note that the government through its order no 367-GAD-2017 dated 21-12-2017 accorded sanction of operationalisation of 8 Juvenile Justice Boards and implementation of 2013 Act and Rules.”
The court was informed that the government has sanctioned the posts of magistrate of Juvenile Justice Board as part of phase one.
It was also informed that communication has been issued by Social Welfare Department to Secretary, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, that the building for the boards stands identified and hired on rent basis till own structures are made and the staff for these boards has also been recruited and put in place.
Advocate Hashim Hussain representing Department of Social Welfare stated that the members of Juvenile Justice Boards have been appointed for 22 districts.
“44 persons have been appointed, two members for each district,” said Hashim.
The court observed that the only hurdle in the operationalisation of these boards is the formal sanction of 8 additional posts of magistrates and directed the government to ensure the formal sanction of order within two weeks from today.
“The order is produced before Chief Secretary to Government to ensure the action is carried out immediately,” said the court.
Regarding Child Welfare Committee, court was informed that the selection process of the staff is completed but recommendation is yet to be made.
Chairman, selection cum oversight committee, was directed by court to expedite the process.
“Since the committee is not only for selection but also for oversight, so government should strengthen it so that it can see the functioning of Juvenile Justice Boards,” the court said.
On 6-10-2017, it was noted by court that there are no special homes in the state. However the government, on previous occasion had said that two special homes will be established till 31st December 2017, one in Jammu division and one in Kashmir.
The court said, “Nothing has been done in this matter. Commissioner Secretary, Social Welfare Department, shall expedite the process and ensure the two homes are established within four weeks.”