SC directs states to clear pendency in Juvenile Justice Boards: Another HRLN achievement towards ensuring child rights
Highlights of the Judgement in W.P. (Civil) 473/2005: "It is mandated that every State should have a Juvenile Justice Board in place in every District on or before 31st December, 2015." "It is made clear that there is no prohibition in law in having more than one Juvenile Justice Board in a District depending upon the number of pending inquiries and the distance involved in moving children from the Observation Home to the venue of the Juvenile Justice Board. Therefore, it is made clear that a District can have more than one Juvenile Justice Board." "As regards vacancies, we direct that all vacancies in the Juvenile Justice Boards should be filled up on or before 31st December, 2015 in accordance with Rule 92 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 (for short "the Rules") by a Selection Committee presided over by a retired Judge of the High Court." "The number of inquiries pending with the Juvenile Justice Boards across the country as on 31st March, 2015 is an alarming figure of 1, 30,572. In the State of Uttar Pradesh, there appear to be 34,569 cases pending. The State of Uttar Pradesh is directed to comply with the directions we have given above at the earliest (and not wait till 31st December, 2015) so that the number of inquiries is substantially reduced." "Ideally, there should not be more than 100 inquiries pending before each Juvenile Justice Board so that they can be disposed of in the required period of four months. This will mean that many of the Juvenile Justice Boards will have to streamline their working so that the numbers are reduced at the earliest." "Wherever there are a large number of inquiries, as decided by the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court and the Registrar General of the High Court, instructions should be issued to the Juvenile Justice Boards to hold their sittings daily, so that the pendency does not pile up." "The Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court and the Registrar General of the High Court are requested to look into the matter and ensure that the Juvenile Justice Boards hold their sittings in close proximity to the Observation Homes." "The Registrar General will take into consideration the number of pending inquiries before the Juvenile Justice Board and if there are a large number of such inquiries, it would be worthwhile to have a full time Principal Magistrate, In-charge of the Juvenile Justice Board." "It may be preferable to have a lady judicial officer as the Principal Magistrate. This may also be looked into. We also direct the Registrar Generals of the High Courts to issue directions to the social workers to participate actively in the deliberations before the Juvenile Justice Boards." "Mr. Colin Gonsalves has also pointed out that a large number of posts and supporting staff of Juvenile Justice Boards are lying vacant. We request the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Courts to look into the matter and direct the State Governments to fill up all the posts, in any case, by 31st December, 2015." "We are distressed to note that in spite of our order dated 10th April, 2015, the Union of India, through the Ministry of Women and Child Development, has not filed its affidavit. We have commented on the laxity of this Ministry in other proceedings also and also about the lack of concern that this Ministry has for children. We are unable to appreciate this complete apathy of the Ministry on an important issue concerning the children of our country. We record our displeasure." "Learned Additional Solicitor General says that the affidavit in terms of our order dated 10th April, 2015 is ready and will be filed within one week. The Registry will accept the affidavit subject to payment of costs of Rs.25, 000/- to the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee which shall be utilised for juvenile justice issues."