HC seeks Secy SWD’s explanation in 2 days on Juvenile Justice Act

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday directed Commissioner Secretary Social Welfare Department to tender an explanation for not appearing before it.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad also pulled up law and parliamentary affairs department over non-establishments of Juvenile Justice Boards in the state. 

The court had directed the government to constitute the JJBs by 28 December 2015, 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.

As the hearing of the PIL started, the court questioned how the Commissioner Secretary could avoid the court directions as he was supposed to be here and sought an explanation from him within two days.

The division bench, also comprsing Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, also directed the official to be present on next date of hearing and also file report in compliance to its directions within the same period.

The division bench has also taken serious note to the report filed by the Secretary Law and Parliamentary Affairs regarding establishment of Juvenile Justice Boards. “The (law department) should understand the purport and spirit of the Juvenile Justice Act”, the court observed.

The court directed the Secretary Law department to file its fresh and latest response by or before August 11.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation, which was initiated by one Tanvi Ahuja, who has since expired. Consequently the title of the PIL has now been altered to “Court on its own motion v. State of Jammu and Kashmir and others”. 

Ahuja was a Haryana-based social worker and she had 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.

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