Pendency of cases before Juvenile Justice Boards remains high
The wait for justice for children in conflict with law is a long one, as the tale of high pendency of cases before the Juvenile Justice Boards in the State appears to be a never ending one. The number of pending cases before the boards, which has constantly remained over 1,000 in the last few quarters, shows no signs of decline.
According to the figures on pendency of cases for the quarter ending September, 2012, obtained from the Department of Women and Child Department, the number of cases carried forward to the next quarter was 2,136.
Significantly, the number of new cases presented to the boards during July, August, September (considered as the second quarter), is only 592 (582 involving boys, 10 girls). As many as 1,872 cases were carried over from the first quarter. There is also a jump in the number of new cases from the previous quarter by 290.
The statistics available with The Hindu show that only 328 cases were disposed of during the quarter ended September.
The number of cases pending for more than 12 months is the highest — 590.
Ideally, cases should be resolved within four months; the number of such cases is only 278.
The department has only recently collated data for the third quarter, which is expected to be released shortly.
The department data revealed that the 28 boards held 274 sittings during the quarter, three more than the expected number.
If that is the case, why is the pendency rate so high?
P.P. Baburaj, member of the Juvenile Justice Board, Mysore, suggested that the lack of training and awareness among board members could be a reason.
“For example, the police are expected to file a chargesheet within 90 days. If they fail to do so, the board has the power to dispose of the case. The police too have a role to play in this,” he explained.
Nagasimha G. Rao, Director of NGO Child Rights Trust, concurred with this.
Reiterating claims from sources that the board members, comprising one Principal Magistrate and two social workers, were given training for two days during their three-year term, Mr. Rao said: “It is important to appoint those with field experience.”
The lack of counsellors is a contributing factor, said Mr. Rao.
“Many are repeat offenders. There are not enough counsellors in the observation homes,” he said.
As Mr. Baburaj pointed out, “Pendency is not illegal, but it is certainly a violation of child rights.”