Child Welfare Committees (CWCs), which are an integral part of the juvenile justice and care system, have not been set up in J&K yet.
Coupled with a defunct Juvenile Justice Board and other lacunae, as reported by Greater Kashmir in a series of stories this month, the absence of CWCs renders the juvenile justice system in the state more a law on papers than a practice.
The Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) calls for setting up a CWC in every district comprising of a chairman and four other people, of whom one shall be a woman and another member an expert on matters concerning children.
A CWC takes cognisance of and receives children in need of care and protection, conducts inquiries under section 34 of the Act and decide on matters related to children in need of care and protection brought before the committee.
Also, according to the JJA, the committee ensures appropriate rehabilitation and restoration of the child and follow-up the child care plan, directs the officers in charge of children's home to receive children requiring shelter and care.
It also monitors all institutional and non-institutional child care services for children in need of care and protection within their jurisdiction and makes appropriate recommendations to the District Child Protection Unit and State Child Protection Society.
A child rescued from harmful environments like a brothel, abusive family or such situations must be produced before the CWC that will carry out an inquiry to ensure optimum rehabilitation with minimal damage to the child.
"But the government seems to be in slumber. These committees would be of great help to the children," said an official at the social welfare department on the condition of anonymity.
The government had constituted an Apex Body Committee, which was mandated to appoint candidates for CWCs as well as Justice Juvenile Board, said Justice (Retired) Hasnain Masoodi, who is chairman of the committee.
"Since no infrastructure support has been provided to the apex committee, CWCs have not been formed," said Justice Masoodi.
He said as the focus on delinquent children expanded to care and protection from conflict with law only, the need was felt for CWCs.
Referring to lacunae in juvenile justice and care system, Justice Masoodi said, "The Juvenile Home was not functioning properly the way it should have been. It was only after a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the court that the court took notice of the issue concerning the Juvenile Home."
The phone of the director social welfare Hasmat Ali Yatoo rang unanswered.