Special Correspondent

Penalty for media raised

  • Calls for adoption of children-friendly approach in adjudication, disposition of matters
  • Provides for rehabilitation through institutions established under enactment
  • Amendment includes street, working children among "abandoned" category

    NEW DELHI: The Parliament on Tuesday unanimously passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2006.

    The amended Bill, moved by Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhary, calls for adoption of a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interest of children and for their ultimate rehabilitation through various institutions established under the enactment.

    "Juvenile in conflict with law" would mean a juvenile alleged to have committed an offence and not completed 18 years of age on the date of commission of such an offence.

    Among the amendments made to the Act, lying in cold storage since 2000, was that adoption of a child could be across all religions, not just among Hindus. It also includes among "abandoned or surrendered" children, a juvenile found begging, a street child or a working child, Ms. Chowdhary said.

    She said the penalty has been enhanced from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 25,000 for any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or visual media that discloses the name, address, school or any particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child or publishes the child's pictures.

    While admitting to the sorry state of affairs in juvenile homes, she assured the House that the situation would change in the next 18 months.

    She invited members to report the working conditions of juvenile homes, the Juvenile Board, the Special Police Officer and the designated Police officer.

    She agreed with members' observation that the police needed to be sensitised to the special treatment of juvenile offenders and with the enacted law.

    Strict norms

    Replying to supplementaries, she said she was not averse to the adoption of Indian children abroad. She would also raise the age-limit for adoptee parents. "The amended Act would bring strict norms. The need is to ensure that it is implemented."

    Earlier, initiating the discussion, Bharatiya Janata Party member Maya Singh lamented that 90 per cent of the police force were not aware of juvenile justice norms and treated juveniles like adult criminals.

    She stressed the need for utilising the services of child guidance counsellors for juveniles in custody and at rehabilitation centres.