The Supreme Court has issued notices to the UP State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, against the manner in which children in conflict with law are being dealt with by the concerned state authorities.
The order has been passed in a miscellaneous application moved by Amicus Curiae Aparna Bhat, in the case titled InRe: Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in State of Tamil Nadu v. Union of India, calling attention to the illegal acts of UP and Delhi police who are alleged to have detained and tortured minors in police stations.
After hearing the Petitioner, the division bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose, asked both the state Commissions to submit their responses within three weeks.
They further directed that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Union of India may also look into the matter and submit their reports within three weeks.
Bhat had approached the Supreme Court contending that despite explicit directions of the court dated December 5, 2018, children are treated poorly by the state authorities, bordering on severe abuse in many child care institutions across the country.
The Supreme Court held that Section 10 of the JJ Act stipulate that a child in conflict with law has to be placed under the charge of the special juvenile police unit or the designated child welfare officer only and not under regular police custody. Further, Section 12 stipulates that Bail is the rule in case of juveniles.
“Sub-section (1) [Section 12 of JJ Act] makes it absolutely clear that a child alleged to be in conflict with law should be released on bail with or without surety or placed under the supervision of a probation officer or under the care of any fit person. The only embargo created is that in case the release of the child is likely bring him into association with known criminals or expose the child to moral, physical or psychological danger or where the release of the child would defeat the ends of justice, then bail can be denied for reasons to be recorded in writing. Even if bail is not granted, the child cannot be kept in jail or police lockup and has to be kept in an observation home or place of safety”.
Taking an exception to the same, the court held that the JJ Boards have a duty to ensure that children in conflict with law are not abused.
“All JJBs in the country must follow the letter and spirit of the provisions of the Act. We make it clear that the JJBs are not meant to be silent spectators and pass orders only when a matter comes before them. They can take note of the factual situation if it comes to the knowledge of the JJBs that a child has been detained in prison or police lock up. It is the duty of the JJBs to ensure that the child is immediately granted bail or sent to an observation home or a place of safety. The Act cannot be flouted by anybody, least of all the police,” the bench observed.
Bhat had also alleged that the government did not given her a copy of the report on children lodged in Child Care Institutions and the measures taken to ensure their protection, even though more than 14 months had passed since the directions.
In this backdrop, the court has directed the NCPCR and the Union of India to furnish reports, if any, within three weeks.
The matter has now been listed for final hearing on March 24, 2020.
Case Title: In Re: Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in State of Tamil Nadu v. Union of India
Case No.: WP (Crl) No. 102/2007
Quorum: Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose