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Approach juvenile justice cases with care and sensitivity: Meghalaya HC to JJBs

The court passed an order granting bail to a child alleged to be in conflict with law

Sabrangindia 18 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:livelaw.in

The Meghalaya High Court set aside the order of Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), Khliehriat which had denied bail to a child alleged to be in conflict with law, as the order violated section 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

Background

The Child in conflict with law (CCL) was directed by JJB, Khliehriat to be kept at Observation Home (Boys), Shillong as he was alleged to be involved in a physical relationship with a 16 year old girl who was found to be pregnant and is the alleged victim. A bail application was preferred but the same was denied by JJB on September 28 mainly on the ground that at that juncture, the statement of the survivor is yet to be recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C.

Hence, a revision petition was filed before the Meghalaya High Court against the order contending it runs contrary to provisions of section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act. Under Section 12(1) of the JJ Act 2015, bail can be denied to a juvenile only on the ground that (a) the release of such juvenile is likely to bring him into association with any known criminal and (b) that if released he may be exposed to moral, physical or psychological danger or (c) that his release would defeat the ends of justice.

Further, the petitioner also contended that in the bail application, the mother of the CCL had undertaken that she will take full responsibility and shall ensure that the CCL undergo proper counselling and this was not appreciated by the JJB while denying bail.

The single judge bench of Justice W. Diengdoh observed that provision of section 12 of the JJ Act has to be understood in the context of the Statement of Objects of the same. In the introductory part of the said Act of 2015, it has been noted that:

“… The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 ensures proper care, protection, development, treatment and social re-integration of children in difficult circumstances by adopting a child-friendly approach, keeping in view the best interest of the child…"

The court also referred to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act which cites Directive Principles of State Policy which make the State responsible to ensure that all needs of children are met and their basic human rights are protected. The Court also highlighted the provisions of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children ratified by India in 1992 which, inter alia, requires the state to deal with a child accused of violating penal law while taking into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.

The court thus held,

“…one can safely come to the conclusion that in dealing with a CCL, the courts or for that matter, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) is called upon to be highly sensitive keeping the welfare of the child in uppermost concern. Again, the JJB when called upon to apply the provision of Section 12 of the said JJ Act, regard has to be had to the welfare of the child (Juvenile) inasmuch as, confining such child in custody in whatever form would not be beneficial to the overall development of the child’s personality.”

The court also took into consideration the directions issued by the apex court to all Juvenile Justice Boards in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic that they should “consider taking steps to release all children on bail, unless there are clear and valid reasons for the application of the proviso to Section 12, JJ Act 2015”.

The court held that since the bail was denied only on the ground that the statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C of the survivor has not been recorded, the order violated the statutory provision present in the said Section 12(1) and stated that the Principal Magistrate did not apply any judicial discretion while denying bail.

The court while granting bail with conditions stated, “In view of the above, the impugned order cannot stand the scrutiny of law and is accordingly set aside”.

While disposing the petition, the court called upon “all the Juvenile Justice Boards in the State to strictly adhere to the statutory provision of Section 12 of the JJ Act, 2015 while considering the issue of grant or refusal of bail for a CCL and to approach any case where a juvenile is involved with care and sensitivity.”

The complete order may be read here.

Related:

Gujarat: Dalit boy allegedly dies at observation home in Khanpur
NHRC study recommends protecting the anonymity of rape accused until proven guilty

Approach juvenile justice cases with care and sensitivity: Meghalaya HC to JJBs

The court passed an order granting bail to a child alleged to be in conflict with law

Image Courtesy:livelaw.in

The Meghalaya High Court set aside the order of Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), Khliehriat which had denied bail to a child alleged to be in conflict with law, as the order violated section 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

Background

The Child in conflict with law (CCL) was directed by JJB, Khliehriat to be kept at Observation Home (Boys), Shillong as he was alleged to be involved in a physical relationship with a 16 year old girl who was found to be pregnant and is the alleged victim. A bail application was preferred but the same was denied by JJB on September 28 mainly on the ground that at that juncture, the statement of the survivor is yet to be recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C.

Hence, a revision petition was filed before the Meghalaya High Court against the order contending it runs contrary to provisions of section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act. Under Section 12(1) of the JJ Act 2015, bail can be denied to a juvenile only on the ground that (a) the release of such juvenile is likely to bring him into association with any known criminal and (b) that if released he may be exposed to moral, physical or psychological danger or (c) that his release would defeat the ends of justice.

Further, the petitioner also contended that in the bail application, the mother of the CCL had undertaken that she will take full responsibility and shall ensure that the CCL undergo proper counselling and this was not appreciated by the JJB while denying bail.

The single judge bench of Justice W. Diengdoh observed that provision of section 12 of the JJ Act has to be understood in the context of the Statement of Objects of the same. In the introductory part of the said Act of 2015, it has been noted that:

“… The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 ensures proper care, protection, development, treatment and social re-integration of children in difficult circumstances by adopting a child-friendly approach, keeping in view the best interest of the child…"

The court also referred to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act which cites Directive Principles of State Policy which make the State responsible to ensure that all needs of children are met and their basic human rights are protected. The Court also highlighted the provisions of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children ratified by India in 1992 which, inter alia, requires the state to deal with a child accused of violating penal law while taking into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.

The court thus held,

“…one can safely come to the conclusion that in dealing with a CCL, the courts or for that matter, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) is called upon to be highly sensitive keeping the welfare of the child in uppermost concern. Again, the JJB when called upon to apply the provision of Section 12 of the said JJ Act, regard has to be had to the welfare of the child (Juvenile) inasmuch as, confining such child in custody in whatever form would not be beneficial to the overall development of the child’s personality.”

The court also took into consideration the directions issued by the apex court to all Juvenile Justice Boards in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic that they should “consider taking steps to release all children on bail, unless there are clear and valid reasons for the application of the proviso to Section 12, JJ Act 2015”.

The court held that since the bail was denied only on the ground that the statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C of the survivor has not been recorded, the order violated the statutory provision present in the said Section 12(1) and stated that the Principal Magistrate did not apply any judicial discretion while denying bail.

The court while granting bail with conditions stated, “In view of the above, the impugned order cannot stand the scrutiny of law and is accordingly set aside”.

While disposing the petition, the court called upon “all the Juvenile Justice Boards in the State to strictly adhere to the statutory provision of Section 12 of the JJ Act, 2015 while considering the issue of grant or refusal of bail for a CCL and to approach any case where a juvenile is involved with care and sensitivity.”

The complete order may be read here.

Related:

Gujarat: Dalit boy allegedly dies at observation home in Khanpur
NHRC study recommends protecting the anonymity of rape accused until proven guilty

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