A consultative meeting on the draft bill to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 here has suggested that the term juvenile should be well-defined or replace it with the word children.

Several organisations have pointed out that the 1986 Act defines a child as a person in the 0-14 years age group whereas the WHO, UN and the ILO define a child as one under 18 years of age.

It also strongly opposed attempts to bureaucratise juvenile justice delivery mechanism. State Convener of CACL (Campaign Against Child Labour)-Karnataka Renni D’Souza said here on Wednesday the recommendation to nominate Deputy Commissioners or health officers to the Child Welfare Committee — a quasi judicial body tasked with conducting primary hearing regarding children in confrontation with law — should be dropped. It recommended that those who have experience in dealing with such issues and having the required ability should be nominated as is being done now.

Other recommendations are: each district should have observation homes; children helpline, child trafficking and sale should be defined; children protection homes in each taluk; opportunity for NGOs and social workers get scope in preparing social investigation reports on cases reported; provision for legal and psychological help to children in confrontation with law and their mothers; training of police officials to understand family problems and mental situation of such children and their mothers; creation of system where child can get medical, psychological and social experts; provisions to punish those harassing children; definition of rehabilitation of such children and clarity on ancestral documents related to children adopted.

At the consultative meeting on Tuesday, child rights activist Sister Dulcina said, bureaucratisation of the CWC was in sharp contrast to the present situation. Present members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) are people well-versed with child rights issues. “Some CWCs have not worked properly. But this cannot be the reason for changing the composition of CWC,” she said.

Sister Dulcina was also against trial of cases of attempt to murder, murder and sexual assault cases involving a 16-year-old boy in a session court as stated in the draft bill.

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