Social welfare forgets Juveniles, not ready to constitute justice boards

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Jasleen Kour

Four years have passed since the day Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act 2013) was implemented in the state but the state government is yet to constitute Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) and Child Welfare Committees (CWCs).

Such is the callousness that the state government has said that Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) and Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) shall be established under the supervision of Selection-cum-Oversight Committee which is being shortly constituted. No time frame has been given neither has the state government explained reasons behind delay in constituting the committee.

By saying that it is still in the process of constituting Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) and Child Welfare Committees (CWCs), the social welfare ministry of Jammu and Kashmir has admitted of having violated the stipulations under the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act 2013). It has accepted of having failed to deliver justice to the children who are abused and brutalized all over the state especially in Kashmir valley.

Not only this, the state government has failed to find proficient persons who could head these boards and committees. According to the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act 2013), Justice Juvenile Board (JJB) should consist of a judicial magistrate of the first class and two social workers. The state has failed to find three fit persons to head these boards all over the state for the implementation of the act.

Not only this, the ministry of social welfare had to constitute child welfare committees within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the act, by notification in the government gazette for every district or a group of districts or each division of the state, one or more Child Welfare Committees for exercising the powers and discharge the duties conferred on such Committees in relation to child in need of care and protection under the Act.

The act further states that the committee shall consist of a chairperson and four other members as the state government may think fit to appoint, of whom at least one shall be a woman and another, an expert on matters concerning children. State government which recently included 70 to 80

political workers and social activists in various boards is finding it difficult to constitute Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) for the reasons best known to it.

State government has admitted that the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development  has already approved establishment of 22 Juvenile Justice Boards (one JJB for each District), in the state but has added that the selection  of members other than Chairman (a retired High Court Judge),

for each Juvenile Justice Board rests with Selection-cum-Oversight Committee, which is being shortly constituted. This is being said since the last four years by the ministry.

Non-seriousness towards Juveniles reflects from the fact that state government does not know even the estimated number of child workers as well as Labourers in rural and urban areas of Jammu and Kashmir. However, it has referred to National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and said that 154 children are seeking education in Srinagar district, of which 54 are male and 100 are female. In District Udhampur, 454 children are seeking education in which 238 are females and 216 are males.

Social welfare department has claimed to have conducted more than 13339 inspections but added that it failed to do much and launched prosecution in 84 cases. Thus, it clearly shows that the prosecution has not been launched even in 1 percent of the inspections which the social welfare department has claimed to have carried out during the last 4 years. If the claims are to be believed, conviction has taken place in just 51 cases.

The figure is both alarming and disappointing. Department has claimed to have realized around Rs. 3.10 Lakh as fine from those who were penalized for violating Juvenile Justice Act-2013. The claims have neither been verified nor has anyone ever questioned the manner in which social welfare department has been half-heartedly implementing the state all over the state.

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