Delhi High Court Issues Historic Guidelines to eliminate incarceration of children in Jails
In response to a letter petition by HRLN Lawyer Anant Asthana alleging that juveniles are being shown as adults and are being incarcerated into Jails and subsequent discovery of hundreds of juveniles in Tihar Jail in the survey done by teams constituted by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Delhi High Court has issued comprehensive directions to eliminate incarceration of children into jails. Some of the salient features of these historic guidelines are detailed below: Age Memo: On the line of "Arrest Memo" which was evolved on the direction of Supreme Court in order to curb illegal detention at police stations, Delhi High Court has directed Police to incorporate "Age Memo" in criminal investigations. Copies of such age memos have to be immediately supplied to accused, his/her family and officials of Legal Services Authority. Inquiry and Action against Police in case of lapse: In each case of lapse, Deputy Commissioner of Police shall conduct inquiry and action shall also be taken against the erring police officials. Mandatory Legal Aid: Court has also issued detailed guidelines to Juvenile Justice Boards to ensure that not a single child goes unrepresented by a legal aid lawyer and has set in details as to how effective and meaningful legal aid has to be provided to juveniles. Official of District Legal Services Authorities have been given responsibility to act as a check on police officials with a view to ensure that they don't produce persons below the age of 18 years in adult criminal courts. In pursuance of this Judgment, hundreds of persons incarcerated in Jails of Delhi are now being produced before Juvenile Justice Boards and Courts which are conducting age inquiries of such inmates. Among those who have been incarcerated in Jails is a person who has served 14 years in Jail already and another one is who was sentenced to death. Both of them have now been declared juveniles and have been set at liberty. These guidelines have been issued by Division Bench of Hon'ble Delhi High Court comprising of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahay Endlaw in Writ Petition (Civil) 8889 of 2011.