High Court: JJBs should have child-friendly premises

Govt. told to come up with standard design, uniform policy

The High Court of Karnataka has directed the State government to come out with a standard design to set up child-friendly premises for holding sittings of the Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) in all the districts as per the mandate of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016.

Also, the court directed the government to formulate a uniform policy regarding staffing pattern and infrastructure to be provided to each JJB, and submit the model of the standard design and the uniform policy before the court within a month after holding consultation with all stakeholders, including the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty issued the directions on a PIL petition initiated suo motu by the High Court in 2018 to monitor implementation of the JJ Act as per the apex court’s direction, and another PIL filed by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, New Delhi.

The Bench said the design must be as per the provisions of the model rules that state that the board should hold sittings on a child-friendly premises, which should not look like a court room in any manner and the sitting arrangement should be such that the board should interact with the child face to face. And also that the board should not sit on a raised platform and there shall be no barriers, such as witness boxes or bars between the board and the child.

The Bench also directed the government to provide all the requisite infrastructure to each JJB for conduct of videoconference hearing and to consider conducting a social audit of the performance of the institutions under the Act and implementation of the policies regarding children.

Also, the Bench directed the government to ensure that all JJBs hold sittings on the premises of an observation home or at a place in proximity to the observation home or, at a suitable premise in any Child Care Institution meant for children in conflict with law run under the Act, and in no circumstances should the board operate from within any court or jail premises, as per the model rules.

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