Juvenile Justice offices may have to shut down as Govt stops funds

The offices belonging to Juvenile Justice Boards, Child Welfare Committee and District Child Protection Units may face closure as the Governor administration has failed to release funds to the Integrated Child Protection Scheme. The offices of these boards, meant for the welfare of children, have rental accommodations.

An office in Kulgam has already been closed after the department didn’t clear the pending dues to the landlord.

It’s been five months and the government has not released funds to the ICPS- a scheme considered as a vehicle for the implementation of Juvenile Justice Act. As a result of this, over 300 employees working with the ICPS are without salary for past five months.

“We are yet to receive salaries. We were not paid salary last Eid as well. Also, the offices of many Juvenile Justice Boards, Child Welfare Committees and District Child Protection Units in various districts might face closure if the rents are not paid on time,” said an official at ICPS.

After delaying its implementation for over eight years, the J&K government finally implemented the scheme in 2017.

In 2013, J&K signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to implement the ICPS with the government of India, although the scheme was launched by the ministry of women and child development in 2009.

J&K was the only state that has failed to implement the scheme, despite the fact that 90 percent of the funds came from government of India. The other states have to fund 40 percent of the expenditure.

After many years of delay the state government gave the nod for the implementation of ICPS and the statutory structures like boards, and welfare committees were formed to help the young children in conflict with law or those in need of care and protection to be mainstreamed.

And just when it appeared that the scheme has started functioning, the government put brakes on it by stopping the funds.

“The ICPS had around Rs 20 crore funds meant for various things including salaries, rents, and monthly sponsorship, but the problem is that the files are stuck in the civil secretariat. At the secretariat the officials are asking us questions about the recruitments made and many other things and when the department answers those questions, the next set of questions are thrown at us. All of this has badly impacted our work,” said an official associated with the ICPS.