Delhi child rights panel questions NCPCR, will frame own guidelines

Says will formulate its own guidelines within 6 weeks

February 08, 2023 03:43 am | Updated 03:43 am IST - New Delhi

The Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on Tuesday wrote to the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), picking apart the guidelines it had framed for conducting preliminary assessment of children in conflict with law (CCLs). Pointing out the inconsistencies in the NCPCR guidelines, the Delhi body said it would frame its own.

DCPCR chief Anurag Kundu, in his letter to NCPCR chief Priyank Kanoongo, noted that the NCPCR was supposed to take State CPCRs into the consultation on the guidelines, adding that whatever consultation was held could not be called fruitful.

The guidelines are meant to dictate the manner in which the preliminary assessment of a child (between 16 and 18 years) accused of a heinous crime needs to be carried out by the Juvenile Justice Board. In a 2022 judgement, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre, the NCPCR and State CPCRs to come up with the guidelines for this. 

Commenting on the guidelines, the DCPCR said that while they acknowledge that the preliminary assessment cannot become a way for extracting confession, the questionnaire in the guidelines inadvertently does exactly that. 

Mr. Kundu went on to say that the guidelines “selectively” mentioned guiding principles of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015, and that legal definitions of some terms were incorrect. 

The Delhi child rights body added that the guidelines sidelines the JJB’s power to quash an unfounded case if it found that to be the case; does not fully outline the child’s right to formidable legal defence; and brushes over the child’s right to bail pending the outcome of the preliminary assessment. 

Notifying the NCPCR, the child rights body in Delhi said it was in the final stages of formulating its own guidelines for the same purpose, adding this would be completed in the next six weeks. 

It also recommended that the NCPCR amend its guidelines accordingly and prepare for other State CPCRs to formulate their own guidelines specific to their context and reality. 

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