Child rights body issues notice to police for ‘picking up’ juveniles

October 14th, 2008 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) Retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Amod Kanth, who is now chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Child Rights, said the commission has issued notice to Delhi Police for “picking up” some juveniles for interrogation in Jamia Nagar after the Sep 19 shootout and holding them back for hours.”The commission was informed that the Delhi Police had picked up four boys for questioning in Jamia Nagar after the shootout episode. Although the boys, all below the age of 18, were released later, they were being held back for a considerable amount of time,” Kanth said.

“We have issued notice to Delhi Police on the matter. They have 15 days to get back to us,” Kanth told IANS on the sidelines of a human rights conference here.

“Once a juvenile is detained, it has to be brought to the attention of a member of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Board. A juvenile has to be looked from the viewpoint of the Juvenile Justice System and not the Criminal Justice System.

“Under the Juvenile Justice Act, no juvenile can be arrested - they can only be taken into custodial care. And the parents have to be informed. There is no business to hold him back until and unless there is reason to believe that his release will bring him in association with criminals or expose him to some danger,” added Kanth, who is also founder of Prayas, an NGO working on child rights.

According to Kanth, one of the biggest challenges that the commission faces today is the lack of understanding of the juvenile justice system.

“One of the alleged terrorists killed in the Jamia Nagar shootout was a 17-year-old. He was a juvenile. The police could have mentioned his age but didn’t want to declare so that the laws under the Juvenile Justice Act doesn’t apply.

“The problem today is that there is a lack of understanding and acceptance of the Juvenile Justice Act. I have time and again said that a child cannot be looked from the viewpoint of the criminal justice system, but from the juvenile justice system,” he said.

B.B. Pande, professor of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, who was also present at the conference, said: “The role of police should be minimised in the Juvenile Justice system. Members of the special juvenile unit should handle such matters”.

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