Rajya Sabha passes Juvenile Justice Bill

The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2010, which will end the segregation of disease-hit children from other occupants of juvenile homes.

Replying to a brief debate on the Bill, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said segregation of children afflicted with leprosy, sexually transmitted disease, Hepatitis-B, tuberculosis and unsound mind was not required anymore. “In the opinion of experts too, segregation is not necessary for the treatment of such children.”

Now the Bill will go to the Lok Sabha for approval.

Ms. Tirath said the Delhi High Court had also held that there was a need to amend discriminatory legislation and to ensure that those afflicted with leprosy enjoyed equal rights.

The Bill seeks to omit and amend certain sections of the original Act, which had provisions for removal of such children from juvenile homes to treatment centres.

Supporting the amendments, several members said juvenile homes lacked sanitation and proper food. And there were instances of sexual abuse of inmates by the authorities. There were no separate courts for these delinquents; they were produced in normal courts, produced there by the police, the members said, arguing that this went against the spirit of the Act.

Avinash Rai Khanna of the BJP said the juvenile crime graph was on the rise even in the national capital. Mr. Khanna wanted to know who would bear the cost of treatment of juveniles outside the homes as provided for in the Bill. Poverty and illiteracy, he reasoned, were the main causes of juvenile delinquency.

He said the homes should be provided with proper facilities for sports and education and regretted that the inmates had to clean their toilets and cook food themselves.

Responsibility of States

Ms. Tirath said the Centre provided Rs.10 lakh to each State with 15 districts and Rs.20 lakh to those with more districts, from the Integrated Child Protection Scheme for health care.

The constitution of juvenile justice boards, she said, was the responsibility of the States.

But the members contended that the amount allotted was inadequate. Ganga Charan of the BSP wanted a committee of local representatives, including MPs and MLAs, be formed to look into alleged irregularities in the management of these homes.

Jharna Das Baidya of the CPI(M), E.M.S. Nachiappan of the Congress, Shashi Bhushan Behera of the BJD and Ranjit Singh V. Mohite Patil of the NCP took part in the debate.

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