By- Reethu Rajam

Name of the Case: Sampurna Behura v. Union of India (2018) 4SCC 433

Writ Petition (CIVIL) No. 473 Of 2005

Facts of the Case

The petitioner, Sampurna Behura, has done her Masters in Sociology and pursued her Doctoral Thesis in Sociology. She has involved herself in cases such as child sexual abuse, street children and working children, and other studies in child rights.

She quoted that it is the responsibility of the State to ensure that they cater to the needs of the children and all the rights of the children are protected.

The writ petition pointed out the failure of the State government’s implementation on the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the conditions of the juvenile homes.

It was noticed that the juvenile home for boys in Faridkot (Punjab) and Hoshiarpur (Punjab) are identical to prisons. In the juvenile home in Beed (Maharashtra), the children were restricted to a cell. In homes in Muzaffarpur (Bihar), there were no cooks appointed.

Since there was no cook appointed, the children were supposed to cook their own meals and clean their utensils. At times, children did not have any other option but to starve. The home in Muzaffarpur did not have electricity. These homes also have only one toilet and they have snakes. Therefore, public interest litigation was filed.

Arguments from the Petitioner’s Side

The Writ Petition was filed under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. It stated that there has been a violation under Article 21 of the Constitution (that is, violation of children’s right to live with dignity).

The petitioner also pointed out Article 39-A, Directive Principle Policy in the constitution. The petitioner also pointed out the convention on the rights of the Child adopted by the General Assembly of The United Nations on the 20th of November 1989.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 was passed by the Parliament keeping in mind all the principles prescribed in the Convention on the Right of the Child, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their freedom.

The petitioner suggested that the Juvenile Justice Board should have a social investigation by a Probation Officer as stated in Section 15(2) of the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children) Act,2000.

The petitioner also stated that the government should monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Act regarding the Special Juvenile Police Unit which is mentioned in Section 63 of the Act.

The petitioner quoted that The Home Departments, the Director Generals of Police in all the States and Union Territories shall designate Juvenile or Child Welfare Officer, who shall handle the child under Section 63(2) in The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

The Home Departments and the Director Generals of Police of all the States or Union Territories will also ensure that a Special Juvenile Police Unit encompassing of all officers designated as Child Welfare Officer to be created in every district and city to upgrade the police treatment to juveniles as provided in Section 63(3) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

The petitioner also mentioned Section 4(1), Section 7(1), Section 106, and Section 107 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. Section 4(1) of the Juvenile Justice Act stated that every district shall have one or more Juvenile Justice Board.

Section 106 stated that every State Government must have a Child Protection Society for the State and Child Protection Unit for every District, consisting of officers and employees that should be appointed by the Government.

Section 107(1) stated that in every police station, at least one police officer must be trained to take up matters relating to children with the intention of implementing the Act. The petitioner also drew attention to many surveys and statistics that were conducted during 2004 – 2005.

Observations of the Case

After many discussions and suggestions, the court concluded as follows:

The court hoped that the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and the State government should make sure that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights performed the finest.

The MWCD must make sure to make creative use of information and communication technology not for collection of data but also to collect databases on issues that concern topics such as the Juvenile Justice Act, Missing Children, Trafficked Children, Adoption Cases, etc.

The court highlighted the case of Sheela Barse II v. Union of India[1]  which also dealt with abandoning children and they are lodged in various jails for “safe custody”.

The case of Naisul Khatun v. State of Assam and Ors[2] was taken into account which stated that “The second disturbing aspect of the case is that it appears that the Juvenile Justice Board constituted under section 4 of the Act did not actually sit or assemble to deal with the case of the juvenile. We say so because from the original case records we find that all the order sheets passed in the matter, including those refusing bail, to juvenile, have all been signed only by the Principal Magistrate of the Juvenile Justice Board.”

Then in The Matter of Letter of Sanat Kumar Sinha (Chief Co-ordinator), Bal Sakha v. The State of Bihar through the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Bihar and Ors[3], it was highlighted that a policeman in the uniform, handcuffed a child, from the Police Station to the Civil Court. The court quoted that the National Campaign to restore civil rights (NCRCR) and the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (SCRPCRs), should take their duties and functions more seriously. They should also carry out surveys.

The District Level & State Level Protection Units should implement the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection for Children) Act. Even NGO’s can spread knowledge of the Act. The Juvenile Justice Boards and The Children Welfare committees must be filled.

The National and State Policies must include Children’s Rights as a part of their curriculum. The Special Juvenile Police Units and the Child Welfare Police Officers must guide the National Police Academy or Bureau of Police Research and Department or NGOs for the well-being of the children.

The High Courts and the Juvenile Justice Committee of each State must look after the welfare of the children. The court has also requested the Chief Justice of every Hight Court to look for effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act. The Court also requested to establish child-friendly courts in each district.

Ratio Decidendi

Children have all the rights to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and the other statutory rights.

Observations of the Author

Children are the sole reason for shaping the world of tomorrow. Nowadays, children are the adults of tomorrow. Juvenile shelter homes are built for rehabilitation and restoration of juveniles mainly for the protection of the juvenile.

There are 815 Juvenile Homes in India. The numbers of juveniles in India are about 1 million. Psychological researches have proved that children do crimes only because of their circumstances or teachings.

Therefore, the Juvenile Justice Board should make sure that all the juveniles, all the children get counseling and they can be turned into a new leaf.

NGOs and schools can spread awareness about the rights that are meant for the children. Not only counseling, but juveniles should also get proper education, shelter, food, and other necessities.

[1] Sheela Barse II v. Union of India, (1986) 3 SCC 632.

[2] Naisul Khatun v. State of Assam and Ors, 2011 CriLJ 326 = 2010 SCC Online Gau 225.

[3] The Matter of Letter of Sanat Kumar Sinha (Chief Co-ordinator), Bal Sakha v. The State of Bihar through the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Bihar and Ors, MANU/BH/0384/2008.

Case Notes

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