Collectors told to form panels for juvenile justice boards

Chennai Oct. 3. Following directive from the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court on constitution of juvenile justice boards, the Social Welfare department has rushed out notices to all Collectors asking them to initiate the first step of constituting `selection committees'.

``We sent the circulars today, with instructions to them to act immediately and form the committee as specified under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000,'' the Social Welfare Minister, B. Valarmathi, said.

The committee, shall be chaired by the principal district and sessions judge and comprise the Collector and the Commissioner of Police or the Superintendent of Police.

It will then choose one chairperson and four members from a panel of not more than 10 names identified, from among and competent persons in the district.

Another panel consisting of 15 members will have to be drawn up to choose members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), also under the Act. Again, the selection committee will have to appoint a chairperson and four members to the CWC.

The selection committee for Chennai was formed, and convened this morning in the chamber of the principal judge, City Civil court. The two panels for the JJB and the CWC were prepared and forwarded to the Government for appointment.

While welcoming the move, child rights activists caution that the selection committee should exercise prudence in selecting candidates. ``If things are done in a hurry, there will be a chance of genuine candidates not getting selected," they say.

In response, Ms. Valarmathi said: ``In our circular to the Collectors, we have urged them to exercise great caution in selecting the members of the JJB and the CWC.

Though forced to work within a limited time frame, the selection committees will have to select sensitive persons, who also have knowledge about the subject." Officers of the department said panels had been drawn up much earlier.

However, owing to the paucity of funds in the State, the project was put on the back burner, they claim.

``This cannot be entirely true. The Juvenile Justice Act was drawn up in 2000 and Tamil Nadu was the first State to form the rules in February this year. The procedural delays have mainly been caused by inefficiency on the part of some officers, who have now been removed from their posts,'' the Minister said.

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