No Juvenile Should be Kept in Lockup, Jail: HC

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday directed government to ensure no juvenile, conflicting with law, was kept in lockup or the jail in the state.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also directed the Secretary State Legal Services Authority to visit each district and find out whether all basic facilities and legal aid was available to the juveniles. “if any juvenile was found in jail, he shall be shifted to juvenile home immediately,” the court said.

It also directed state’s Law Department to create posts of 22 Judicial Magistrates (first class) on priority basis so that Juvenile Justice Boards in each district of the state are made functional.

The court passed the direction after being informed that the concerned department issued advertisement notice but got poor response. Now a fresh notice has been issued to fill up these 22 posts.

The division bench said that has been clearly indicated in the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act that it is for the state government to fulfil the requirement and setup the Juvenile Justices Boards across the state.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation, which was initiated by Tanvi Ahuja, a Haryana based human rights activist who has since passed away.

Consequently, the title of the PIL has now been altered to “Court on its own motion v. State of Jammu and Kashmir and others”.

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 Act.

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.

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