Juvenile justice in shambles in Assam, says report
Source: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network
Guwahati, January 29 2013:
Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) while releasing its report, "Assam: The State of Juvenile Justice", said that children are routinely tortured in police custody and juvenile justice is in shambles in the State.
"Assam has been consistently ranking top in juvenile delinquency among the eight north eastern states and in 2011, Assam topped the list with 405 cases," the ACHR said.
The report stated that there is acute shortage of homes for juveniles in conflict with the law as well as children in need of care and protection.
Assam has 27 districts but there are only four Observation Homes and three Children Homes run by the state.
These homes are confined to Kamrup, Nagaon and Jorhat districts while the shelter homes run by NGOs are located in Guwahati.
The Jorhat Observation Home set up in 1987 caters to over 11 districts — Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Lakhimpur, Darrang, Udalguri and Sonitpur.
Trafficking prone districts like Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang, Bongaigaon etc do not have any home.
"Assam's negligence of juvenile justice is astounding.
It failed to set up seven new Open Shelters during 2011 despite availability of funds under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Because of this failure the Project Approval Board of the Ministry of Women and Child Development declined to accept the request for grants for 3 existing Open Shelters at the 45th PAB meeting on 11th July 2012 under the ICPS," said Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.
The Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) constituted in all 27 districts of the state remain almost non-functional.
Out of the 596 cases registered in 18 districts of Assam during 1st January 2011-31st December 2011, 347 cases were pending.
The State Child Protection Society (SCPS), Assam failed to specifically provide the total number of reviews done by the State Government on the pendency of cases before each of the CWCs since their constitution.
Assam has constituted Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) in all 27 districts but their functioning remains seriously problematic.
As of 11th July 2012, about 1,635 cases were pending before the JJBs.
Information received under the Right to Information Act, 2005 revealed that percentage of pendency of cases before the JJBs range from minimum 33.3% in Udalguri district to maximum of 100% in Dhemaji and Morigaon district followed by 90.2% in Goalpara district and 79.3% in Darrang district.
According to ACHR, the problem is compounded by the lack of review of the pendency of cases of the JJBs by the Chief Judicial Magistrates (CJMs) as required under section 14(2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2006.Replies received from JJBs under the RTI Act stated that not a single review of the pendency of cases before the JJBs has been conducted by the CMM or CJM in Kokrajhar, Dibrugarh, Darrang, Lakhimpur, Udalguri, Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Golaghat, Morigaon, Chirang, Dhemaji and Nagaon districts from date of their constitution till 30th March 2012 .