HC Asks Seeks Timeline For ‘Effectuating’ Juvenile Justice Law

SRINAGAR — The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday directed state’s Law Department to specify timeline when juvenile justice in the state law shall be effectuated in the state. 

“let an affidavit of an officer, not below the rank of Director, in the department of law, setting out the status and action taken as well as the timelines within which the enactment of the law with regard to juvenile justice in the state law shall be completed and the law effectuated,” said a Division Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Alok Aradhe while hearing a Public Interest Litigation. 

The court ordered that the affidavit shall be filed within ten days and shall also give details of the infrastructure and facilities supplied in the juvenile justice boards as well as child welfare committees. The court has posted the PIL on August 28.    

In May this year, the court directed government to recast SRO-117on appointment and jurisdiction of principal magistrates for juvenile justice boards.

The SRO-117 of 2018 gives location of the eight Juvenile Justice Boards for which posts of Principal Magistrates have been sanctioned and the of their respective jurisdiction.

In terms of the SRO, the eight Juvenile Justice Boards have to exercise jurisdiction over the entire State to the extent shown in the SRO. The Juvenile Justice Board at Srinagar is to have jurisdiction over Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts while that of Anantnag is to the extent of Anantnag, Kulgam,Shopian and Pulwama districts, so on and so forth.

“The SRO No. 117 of2018, therefore, divests the Chief Judicial Magistrates of 14 districts, i.e.other than the districts for which the Principal Magistrates have been appointed, of the powers and functions of the Juvenile Justice Board, otherwise exercised by them under sub-section (6) of Section 4,” the court had said. Consequently, the court had said, juveniles in conflict with law from the districts are to be brought before the Board and this would be a difficult task for the SJPU and the Juvenile Welfare Officer and grossly inconvenient for the juvenile in conflict with law.

“We are in agreement with the observations that SRO 117 may result in non-compliance with the provisions of the Jammu & Kashmir Juvenile Justice(Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013 and the Rules of 2014,” the court had said.

“We, accordingly, make it clear that, while the Juvenile Justice Boards presided over by the designated Principal Magistrates and comprising of the members already appointed may function at the districts identified in the SRO, i.e. Srinagar,Baramulla, Anantnag, Leh, Kargil, Doda, Jammu and Poonch, with the territorial jurisdiction restricted to their respective districts, the Chief Judicial Magistrates in rest of the districts, i.e. Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal,Budgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Ramban, Kishtwar, Udhampur,Reasi, Rajouri, Kathua and Samba, shall preside over as Principal Magistrates over the Juvenile Justice Boards in these districts till the posts of Principal Magistrates are sanctioned.”

Pertinently two Juvenile Justice Board members in each of the 14 districts stand already appointed and would be associated with the respective Juvenile Justice Boards. “

“Let SRO 117 of 2018 be recasted in terms of this order so that the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013 and the Rules of 2014, to the extent these relate to juvenile inconflict with law, are implemented in letter and spirit.”

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