Bills to protect juvenile rights gather dust
Srinagar, Sep 2: Two important bills--Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPR) Act–to secure the rights of children are gathering dust over the past two years, with authorities showing no intention to pass the legislations.
Authoritative sources told Greater Kashmir that J&K Govt had set the process of bringing the obsolete Juvenile Justice Act in conformity with national and international standards into the motion last year. The move was initiated by State Government after it drew flak from international rights groups and political parties for juvenile detentions especially booking of minor, Fazian Rafiq Hakeem, under Public Safety Act. Amnesty International (AI) had then also started signature campaign for upgradation of JJ Act in JK particularly raising the cut-off age from 16-yrs to 18-yrs and had urged Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to bring it at par with international law. “Despite an obligation under international law to treat anyone below the age of 18-yrs as a child, police continue to imprison 16-yr and 17-yr old boys as adults,” the AI had said.
Under pressure from rights groups, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had also acknowledged the need to bring the state’s Juvenile Justice Act at par with the National Act.
“I would ask the Law Department to look into the provisions of both the Acts and if any gap is required to be filled up in the State Act through legislation we should move towards that direction,” Omar had said while speaking at Udhampur on Apr 21 last year.
According to the sources, the State’s Social Welfare Department prepared the draft of the new legislation on Juvenile Justice to replace the archaic JJ Act-1997 within two months. Subsequently, the bill was sent to Law Department and without taking much time the Department cleared it after slight fine-tuning in July last year.
“Following the clearance from Law Department, the bill was sent to Finance Department for concurrence, but they returned the bill back to Social Welfare Department seeking modifications for bringing down the recurring amount required for setting up of infrastructure which was to be set up as per the draft. The Social Welfare Department promptly responded to the queries raised by Finance Department but the latter is sitting over the file,” they said, adding that since then there has been no forward movement on upgrading the law.
Similarly, the law for setting up State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) has also been hit due to financial implications.
An official source said after preparation of draft for constituting SCPCR, the Law Department cleared it in early 2011.
Since then, according to the official, the bill has been returned by Finance Department four times on one or other pretext and the queries raised by them “do not hold any ground.”
“They are raising unnecessary queries over the past two years and some of the queries raised by them are beyond their mandate,” the official said.
Pertinently, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has mandate to work in all states excluding Jammu and Kashmir for the purpose of safeguarding child rights. Despite being covered by NCPCR, 15 states have constituted state level Commissions at their own level to strengthen child rights mechanism.
An official said that JK is losing crores of rupees due to failure of government to bring child rights at national standards.
“JK is only state where the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) is yet to take off. Had ICPS been implemented in JK state would have got around Rs 40 crore from the Centre. The reasons cited by the Department for delay in implementation of ICPS are blatant lies and the only reason for its non-execution is failure of government to raise the cut-off age,” the official added.
POLITICAL PARTIES SPEAK
Chief spokesman of opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Naeem Akthar flayed the coalition government for failing to protect child rights and added that government should respect child rights and “not make it an issue of security”.
“This government is directionless. Whatever it says it forgets next moment. They make promises only for news headlines and wherever we have laws in place they fail to implement them. Children have been particular victim of the present coalition. They have faced handcuffs, suffered long detentions,” Akthar said.
The PDP spokesman said the subject needs to be dealt with compassion and understanding and it should not be made an issue of security. Children can be what we the elders want them to be. Unfortunately, there is no effective mechanism to protect child rights in JK.”
Member Parliament from south Kashmir, Dr Mehboob Beg said he would the raise the issue with Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, as soon as parliament session ends.
“It is a serious issue and we cannot remain mute spectators towards it,” Beg said.
CPI (M) Communist Party of India State Secretary and MLA Kulgam, M Y Tarigami, said the two laws should be passed without wasting further time to protect our future. “As far as the child rights are concerned, there is no effective legal frame mechanism in place and successive regimes have forgotten the subject,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 3 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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