Funds no excuse in non-implementation of Juvenile Justice Act 

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday chided Commissioner Secretary of Social Welfare Department, underlining it cannot take excuse of non-availability of funds once the Juvenile Justice (protection & care of children) Act and rules are in place in the state. 

As the hearing of a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation started before Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad, counsel for the government submitted that a fresh affidavit has been filed by the Commissioner Secretary Social Welfare Department. 

After its perusal, the division bench responded by observing that the officer seems to have “poor understanding of Juvenile Justice Act and its Rules.” 

Subsequently, the court returned the affidavit, observing that it was inadequate and does not address the issues and concerns in terms of Juvenile Justice (protection & care of children) Act and its Rules. 

The court said that “before proceeding” against the officer, ‘final opportunity’ of two weeks shall be given to him for filling the ‘proper’ affidavit. 

“It is the statutory duty which has to be fulfilled. The proper affidavit indicating all the deficiencies and the plan of action for renewal of those deficiencies along with time line, so as to bring the state J&K in conformity with law of legislature and notified by the Government by way of statutory rules, be filed within two weeks,” the court said. 

It has already 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 division bench observed that it has been clearly indicated in the Act that it was for the state government to fulfil the requirement and setup the JJBs across the state.  The court has already directed authorities to explain the compliance of the Juvenile Justice Rules particularly with regard to the children, who do not have parents, or their parents have abandoned them or their parents are unable to take care of them. 

The court was hearing a PIL, initiated on the basis of a news report in 2013, highlighting that the basic rights of the children had been denied to them and they were suffering from anaemia and other serious medical ailments in an orphanage. It also revealed that authorities were forcing the children to do menial jobs like washing clothes and sweeping floors.

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