No FIR except heinous crime
Sanjeev K. Sharma
JAMMU, Sept 13: For overall care and protection of children in J&K Union Territory, the Social Welfare Department has decided to make Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice Rules, 2021 under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act 2016, which among other things have the provision of no First Information Report to be registered against a child in conflict with law except in case of some heinous crime committed by the child or when such crime is committed jointly with some adults.
Also the Special Juvenile Police Unit or Child Welfare Police Officer shall record information regarding the offence, allegedly committed by the child, in the General Daily Diary followed by a social background report of the child in a prescribed form and circumstances under which the child was apprehended and forward the same to the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) before the first hearing.
There shall be one or more such Boards in each district to be constituted by the J&K government after a notification.
The detailed rules which are put in public domain for suggestions by different stakeholders also stated that the JJB shall in the first instance determine whether the child is 16 years of age or above and if not the Board shall proceed as per the provisions of the Act.
Also for conducting a preliminary assessment in case of heinous offences, the Board may take the assistance of psychologists or psycho-social workers or other experts who have experience of working with children in difficult circumstances and while making the preliminary assessment, the child shall be presumed to be innocent unless proved otherwise.
In case the Board after preliminary assessment under the Act passes an order that there is a need for trial of the child as an adult, it shall assign reasons for the same and the copy of the order shall also be provided to the child.
Upon receipt of preliminary assessment from the Board, the Children’s Court may decide whether there is a need for trial of the child as an adult or as a child and pass appropriate orders.
However, whenever the child alleged to be in conflict with law is apprehended, he shall be produced before the Board within 24 hours along with a report explaining the reasons for the child being apprehended by the police.
The Board is also empowered to pass appropriate orders for re-admission or continuation of the child in school where the child has been disallowed from continuing education on account of the pendency of the inquiry or the child having stayed in a Child Care Institution for any length of time.
It will be the duty of the Board to inspect Child Care Institutions for children in conflict with law, issue directions in cases of any noticeable lapses, suggest improvements, seek compliance and recommend suitable action, including against any employee found in dereliction of duty to the District Child Protection Unit.
The Rules also state that there shall be one or more Child Welfare Committees in each district to be constituted by the Government of J&K to document and maintain case records along with a case summary of every case dealt by the Committee.
The Committee shall also be duty bound to send quarterly information about children in need of care and protection received by it to the District Magistrate with all relevant details on nature of disposal of cases, pending cases and reasons for such pendency.
Among many other functions of the Committee it shall also have the power to declare a child legally free for adoption.