Different authorities constituted under the Juvenile Justice Act are facing vacancies which, in turn, is affecting the effective implementation of the Act, Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur said today.
“If authorities constituted under the (Juvenile Justice) Act, such as the juvenile justice boards, state commissions for protection of child rights, special juvenile police units, do not function properly — many of them have vacancies for months — there is no point in having a good law,” Justice Lokur said.
Justice Lokur, who also heads the Supreme Court Juvenile Justice Committee, was speaking at the 3rd Regional Roundtable Conference on ‘Effective Implementation of Juvenile Justice Act’ here.
“There are advisory bodies under the Act in every state and as far as I am aware, they are not functioning up to the mark. Unless we look into the functioning of the bodies, it is not going to take us very far,” he said.
Stressing on the need to focus on the implementation of Acts related to children, he said juvenile justice committees of High Courts have an important role to play in monitoring the implementation.
“What we need to really concentrate on is implementation of the Acts — the Juvenile Justice Act, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Acts with regard to the commissions on children.
“The functioning of these Acts is very important. Laws are good, but if we don’t implement them properly, they will only remain laws on paper,” said Justice Lokur.
“When the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was enacted, this was one of the main problems. The law was good but nothing was happening. That is what prompted the Chief Justice of India to write to the Chief Justices of High Courts to set up juvenile justice committees, so that at least the judiciary can play a role (in their implementation),” he added.
Justice Lokur also expressed concern over the rising number of cases pertaining to sexual abuse of children under the POCSO Act.
“This is a very very serious issues…there are so many cases of child sexual abuse. This is frightening. What is happening to our society that such a large number of child sexual abuse cases are being reported?” he asked.
Justice Lokur said visits by the members of juvenile justice committees to correction homes has led to a change in their condition, and asked the members to continue with the visits “to encourage the children and help them out by discussing their problems”.
“Over the last two-three years, there have been a lot of visits to the homes and this has led to a change. People have realised that improvement was necessary after learning what was going on at the ground level,” he said.
Justice Lokur also called for setting up of “child- friendly” courts where children can depose as witnesses or give statements in a “friendly environment”.
Such courts have been set up at the Hyderabad and Calcutta High Courts. The Allahabad High Court is also in the process of setting up one such court, he said.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was enacted for children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
The Act of 2015 has replaced the 2000 law on children.
The conference here was part of such events organised by the Supreme Court Juvenile Justice Committee across different centres for effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act.