Srinagar: Child rights activists on Tuesday appealed to the J&K government to religiously follow the cases registered against minors under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Act, 2013 and try them in special courts designated under the law.
The activists said that implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act, has been taking place at a snail’s pace in J&K due to various reasons, which has led to profiling of juveniles in violation of the Act.
“As per the JJ act, police cannot do profiling of juveniles even if they are found involved in a serious crime. There are provisions of record-keeping in the legislation which, at a prescribed time, are to be destroyed or kept at a safe place. Even the special homes or child protection centers have to refrain from sharing any information, even after the child has completed his period under observation,” child rights activist and senior advocate Vikram Srivastava said at a media sensitisation workshop organised by Save the Children, J&K, in collaboration with Greater Kashmir newspaper.
Srivastava said that no ordinary court can put a juvenile on trial in any crime, even if the crime is heinous.
“Children in conflict with law or in need of care and protection are to be handed over to the Juvenile Justice Boards or to Child Welfare Committees,” Srivastava said.
The JJ Act has provisions for setting up of juvenile courts, juvenile boards, district-level committees, rehabilitation policy, and observation homes in every district for juveniles, he said.
Srivastava, who has worked on child rights in India for many years, said the JJ Act had provisions for every issue related to child care and protection, as well as issues related to children in conflict with the law.
“The law is to enable rehabilitation of children as they are a vulnerable group,” he said.
Sharif Bhat, General Manager of Save the Children, J&K, said that implementation of JJ Act would take some time in the state as it is still in its infancy.
“We are still in the advocacy phase, raising awareness among people and other stakeholders,” he said.
Consulting Editor at Kashmir Reader, Bilal Bhat, said that the police which is the first contact agency had been, at many places, found brazenly violating the JJ Act themselves.
“The issue of minors killed, injured, handcuffed and detained under ‘Public Safety Act’ and then putting them in lock-ups instead of having a good number of juvenile homes, has evoked sharp criticism during the 2008, 2010 and the 2016 unrest, from national and international rights groups. This should be an eye-opener for the government and advocacy groups,” he said.
Senior Editor of Greater Kashmir, Hilal A Mir, highlighted the need to raise awareness about the JJ Act and its different provisions. “To make the best use of legislation there must be clear knowledge about the subject so that people won’t get misled,” he said.