Guwahati: The Gauhati High Court has expressed displeasure over the Assam government’s delay in notifying the Juvenile Justice Rules and Child Protection Policy.
A bench of the High Court, during a recent hearing, requested Assam’s Chief Secretary to take steps so that various departments and agencies, who are required to be consulted before notifying the Juvenile Justice Rules and Child Protection Policy do the needful, “if required by calling for a joint meeting and/or to otherwise monitor that the suggestion and comments of the other concerned Govt. departments are obtained within a specified time frame of not later than four weeks.”
The Court also issued directions to the Assam government to suggest the names of officials from the Department of Women and Child Development as members of a proposed Court-appointed Committee to visit various children observation and special homes in the state and report if there is proper implementation of various child protection and children right laws so as to ensure that the various directions contained in the case of Sampurna Behrua vs Union of India (2018) are complied with.
“They shall also provide names of some of the representatives of the NGOs working in this field, out of which the Court shall be appointing three persons in the committee. We also request the learned counsel for the petitioner as well as the standing counsel of this Court to suggest names for appointing persons in the Court appointed committee, out of which one or two persons shall be appointed as members of the proposed committee,” the court said.
The Court further directed the Union of India to file an affidavit on the following issues: (1) the policy in force through which they are funding these homes and other child protection activities; (2) the details of funds which they have already disbursed; and (3) compliance report, if any, collected to ensure that the fund provided have been properly spent.
Notably, on August 24, 2023, the counsel for the petitioner had provided a compilation of 11 pages. “The senior government advocate shall present a compilation of reply or suggestions on the points which are raised by the counsel for the petitioner, which may be filed without a requirement of any affidavit,” the court said.
“In course of deliberation, the secretary to the Government of Assam, Women and Child Development department has submitted in response to the submissions made by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the state has drafted the Juvenile Justice Rules as well as Child Protection Policy. However, the same is being circulated to various departments for their suggestions and comments,” it said.
“In this regard, the Court is of the considered opinion that the Juvenile Justice Act, in the present form was enacted in the year 2015 and notified in the year 2016, and therefore, the delay in notifying the Rules and the Child Protection Policy is not at all appreciated,” it said.
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“Under such circumstances, the Court is inclined to request the chief secretary to the Government of Assam to take steps so that various departments and agencies, who are required to be consulted before notifying the Juvenile Justice Rules and Child Protection Policy to do the needful. The state is put to notice that in the event the suggestions and comments from the other departments are not received within the time frame, the court would be compelled to implead those departments in this litigation so as to ensure that the directions contained in the case of Sampurna Behura is complied with within the time frame,” the Court said.
The matter is listed again on October 10, 2023.
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