‘Biggest problem’ facing Juvenile Justice Board is taking children to Karwar, Shimoga homes

With the Observation Home (OH) for juveniles in conflict with the law in Udupi – which also served Dakshina Kannada district — closed for nearly six months, officials here are dealing with logistical issues of sending juveniles to institutions in Karwar and Shimoga.

With 17 cases having come between April and July end this year, taking the children to these institutes has become the Juvenile Justice Board’s “biggest problem”.

“The trial gets delayed as we can’t get escorts to get the juvenile from Karwar or Shimoga to here,” said Rameela Shekhar, member, JJB.

With the maximum period of trial set at three months, these delays add to the pressure, she said. “For example, when some children have examinations, it is difficult to get the police to immediately escort the child to JJB… Setting up the home here should be a priority,” she said.

For the police, too, the distance is a problem. For instance, after the clash between students on Thursday in a government degree college in Uppinangadi, a minor was among those taken into custody. He was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) in Bondel, which directed the police to escort the juvenile to the OH in Karwar.

“We were not prepared for this. As we could not wait for the train, we had to take the bus. We returned only around midnight, after not having slept for nearly two days. We spent more than Rs. 500 each, which won’t be reimbursed by the government,” said a constable there.

Even when the home in Udupi was functioning, Yogesh Dubey, member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, in his 2012 report had emphasised setting up of an Observation Home here.

“Notification must be issued to open Children Home, Observation Home, Special Home and Shelter Homes in the various districts of the State where there are no such homes… The proposal sent to Central government may be shared with NCPCR for follow up,” the report said.

However, officials at the Department for Women and Child Development said the proposal was still in the discussion stage. “We have informally told the department heads, but a formal proposal has not been sent,” said an official.

The Udupi home, she said, was closed after an inmate cut open the grill and fled – an incident that pointed to inadequate security.

“As government procedures for setting up an OH take a long time, we have requested NGOs to come forward. But no one is willing because the facilities and personnel required is difficult for private institutes to manage,” said the official.

Apart from the obvious security aspect, the stringent guidelines under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Karnataka Rules 2010 deter private institutions from coming forward.

The rules say homes must have non-formal classes, vocational training, special counselling sessions by trained persons and “opportunities for yoga, meditation, physical exercise, cultural programmes” among others.

Similar stringent rules deter NGOs from setting up a Shishu Mandir (for children less than 6 years) in the city. Currently, rescued children are sent to an ashram in Puttur.

The trial gets delayed as we can’t get escorts to get the juveniles back from Karwar or ShimogaRameela Shekhar

Member, JJB

Stringent rules governing Observation Homes are preventing NGOs from stepping in

Official

Department for Women and Child Development

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