Government likely to clear new, amended Juvenile Justice Act bill

The bill earlier controversially proposed to legalise adoption and bring down the age of criminal culpability to 16 years.

SHAFAQ SHAH
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 7 2018 12:34AM | Updated Date: Dec 7 2018 12:34AM
Government likely to clear new, amended Juvenile Justice Act billRepresentational pic

The Governor’s administration is likely to clear the new Juvenile Justice Act bill 2018, the law for child offenders in Jammu and Kashmir, with amendments in restrictions on legalising adoption but without reducing the age for criminal culpability. 

The bill earlier controversially proposed to legalise adoption and bring down the age of criminal culpability to 16 years.

The new draft bill restricts adoption only to the state’s permanent residents or state subjects, sources said.

A senior official in the Governor administration said, “The ICPS department has sent the file to Governor for clearance. The law department has vetted the bill, and the file has gone to GAD and most probably the file will be tabled on 7th of December.” 

“The age of the Juvenile has been kept as 18 and the adoption has been subject to the state subject and personal laws,” the official told Greater Kashmir, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In 1997, the state Assembly passed the Juvenile Justice Act and a decade later laid down rules to enforce it. 

Many years later in 2013, the legislature finally cleared the updated Juvenile Justice Act and approved its rules the following year. 

It was only in 2017 that the law for child offenders and those in need of care actually began to be implemented on the ground, when structures like Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees were being set up. 

But before the law could be fully implemented, the government came up with a new draft Act.

In October, Greater Kashmir carried a series of stories on government’s decision to bring in a new Juvenile Justice law by replacing the existing Juvenile Justice Act 2013 that contained no provision for adoption or for bringing down the age of juvenile offenders. 

This decision of the government has been questioned by experts.

The earlier draft bill proposed making adoption open in Jammu and Kashmir, a move that was thought by many to be a breach to the state’s special status, for if an adopted outsider would get property rights in the state without being a state subject under law.

Now the government has added a clause saying only state subject children could be adopted in the state.

The bill also talks about having ‘specialised adoption agencies’ in the state for the “rehabilitation of orphans, abandoned or surrendered children, through adoption and non-institutional care.” 

It also proposes a state adoption resource authority for facilitating adoptions and frame necessary regulations from time to time.

Chairperson Selection-Cum-Oversight Committee, functioning under the existing juvenile justice law, Justice (R) Hasnain Masoodi said recommendations received from experts during a roundtable conference on the new draft bill were sent to the government.

“Let’s see what the government will decide,” Masoodi said.

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