12 year old Faizan Sofi, was allegedly arrested on 26-08-2012 from his residence on charges of stone-pelting. On 27th August, 2012 the Jammu & Kashmir Police brought him to a Srinagar court while hiding him from the sight of other Bar members and from the general public. In the absence of any advocacy group in the courtroom, the J&K Police managed to get Faizan remanded to 15 days' custody by the sub-registrar office, Srinagar. The grounds of detention are serious criminal offences.
Even though Faizan's lawyers managed to get bail for him the very next day, charges against him haven't been dropped yet. Moreover, the greater problem of lack of a proper juvenile justice system in Jammu & Kashmir remains unaddressed.
In 1986, Government of India enacted the Juvenile Justice Act. Since then, it has been amended on several occasions while the state of Jammu & Kashmir continues to follow the archaic legislation and even that was adopted only in 1996. Even the current legislation i.e. The Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000 at the Centre has been amended as per The Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2010.
We demand that the children of Jammu & Kashmir be treated at par with children in the rest of the country. This can be done only by amending The Jammu & Kashmir Juvenile Justice Act, 1997 and bringing its provisions at par with the Central legislation.
On 28th June, 2012 The J&K Govt assured the NCPCR that they will table a revised Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act in the Assembly but as of now even the existing provisions are not properly implemented. The valley does not have Juvenile Welfare Boards and Juvenile Courts as mandated by the existing legislation.
We demand that the government, headed by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, amend the 1997 Act to bring in the following changes in the upcoming (26th September) Assembly session:
1. Define a "juvenile" as a boy or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years. (As at the Centre)
2. Make a distinction between Juveniles in Conflict with the Law (JCL) and Children in need of care & protection (CNCP). (As at the Centre)
3. Make provisions for and constitute Special Juvenile Police Units (SJPUs) and make it binding upon the police to hand over JCLs to the SJPU immediately after coming into contact with them which in turn will then hand them over to the Juvenile Justice/Welfare board. (As at the Centre)
4. Refer CNCPs to Child Welfare Committee (CWC) unconditionally and make sure that CWC is constituted. No child below the age of 18 years should be tried in a normal court.
5. Amend the constitution of CWC to specify the number of members and make it necessary for them to have at least one expert in children's issues. (As at the Centre)
6. Constitute shelter homes and special homes. Create observation homes for undertrials. (As at the Centre)
7. Include measures to end discrimination within the Juvenile Justice Act. (As in The Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2010 of the Central Government)
8. Bring in provisions for protection of the identity of the child, whether undertrial or convict. (As at the Centre)
We also want the government to drop all charges against Faizan Sofi as proper provisions for trial of minors are not in place yet. According to a report carried by a news portal, Faizan is being mentally tortured and intimidated ever since he was released on bail, as a result of which he has decided not to attend school. This should be taken note of seriously. Also, the harassmet allegedly meted out to Faizan in the juvenile home must be duly investigated and involved personnel punished.
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