Juveniles being denied access to justice in Himachal Pradesh, says Study Report

NEW DELHI - A study report released by a rights group Tuesday uncovered the Himachal Pradesh Government’s lack of concern towards juvenile justice in the state.

Quoting ample of instances from across the state, the fact finding report titled -The State of Juvenile Justice in Himachal Pradesh- released by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) states that the juveniles in Himachal Pradesh are effectively being denied access to justice.

The report claims that, for its 12 districts, Himachal Pradesh has only one Observation Cum Special Home for Boys and Girls at Samoor Kalan under Una district.

“At times, a particular juvenile is needed to be produced three to four times in a month. The situation worsens when the Chairperson of the JJB (a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class) is absent and the hearing is postponed.” the report says.

Recognizing the problems with the lone Observation cum Special Home, a “Court Room” has been constructed at the first floor of the Observation Home cum Special Home for Boys and Girls at Samoor Kalan, Una but no sitting has been held there, says the report.

ACHR stated that the pendency before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJBs) remains significant. For example, there were 162 cases pending before the JJB in Kangra district as of 23 January 2012, 110 cases before the JJB in Una district as of December 2011 and 89 cases before JJB in Shimla district as of November 2011.
 
However, the number of sittings in a number of JJBs was inadequate. The JJB at Chamba had lowest 48 cases and highest 65 cases pending between June 2010 and June 2011 but the JJB had maximum of three sittings per month during this period.

 

There is no segregation of the juveniles at the lone Observation Home-cum-Special Home at Una as well as of the children in need of care and protection at various Children Homes across the state, the report claims.

According to the report, six out of seven Government Children Homes did not have any teacher posted to provide education to the children. Some of the Children Homes have been found to be under-staffed which impacts care and protection of the inmates.  A number of crucial staff positions have not been appointed.

The report also states that no social auditing to monitor and evaluate the functioning of the children's homes has been done so far.

According to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Himachal Pradesh registered 159 cases of juvenile delinquency under the Indian Penal Code in 2010, 127 cases in 2009, 122 cases in 2008, 118 cases in 2007, 102 cases in 2006, and 136 cases in 2005.

 

The Asian Centre for Human Rights has also recommended the Himachal Pradesh Government to establish Observation and Special Homes in every district and to issue necessary directions to conduct the hearing in the ‘Court Room’ of the Homes; to conduct social auditing to monitor and evaluate the functioning of the children's homes. 


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