Guwahati: The Gauhati High Court welcomed the move by the Assam government to expedite implementation of child protection policy, organize a meeting with stakeholders to compile the Juvenile Justice Rules, and invite the petitioners to give suggestions at the meeting.
The bench of Justice Kalyan Rai Surana and Justice Arun Dev Choudhury was hearing Case No.: PIL/60/2019, with Linked Case: PIL (Suo Moto)/1/2018 filed by the petitioners Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Sampurna Behura for implementation of the child protection policy and framing of the Juvenile Protection Rules in the state of Assam.
In the hearing, the counsel for the petitioners submitted that the state government has made a draft child policy that has not been notified, and therefore, he prayed that the Assam government be directed to notify the draft child policy. He also submitted that the social audit process is designed to cover the requirements of three Acts, being (i) the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, (ii) the Child Protection Act, and (iii) the POCSO Act, so that there is due compliance with the relevant provisions contained therein.
The court also observed that the senior government advocate has submitted that the petitioner may send their comments on the draft child policy by e-mail for consideration of the appropriate authority and that steps will be taken to expedite the notification of the child policy.
Moreover, the Deputy Secretary to the state Women and Child Development Department submitted that the process of inspection of various children's homes is under way by the Committee formed by the HC, and till date, eight homes have been visited. She prayed for a further six months to cover all the institutions. In this regard, the court offered the view that six months for inspection would be too much. Therefore, the court has maintained that the individual members of the committee be assigned a group of homes so that the inspection could be expedited.
By the time the matter is called next, the court hopes that there will be a substantial inspection of the condition of the various children's homes in the state.
The senior government advocate was also asked to inform the ASCPCR, Govt. of Assam, to send their representatives to attend the court proceeding on the next date to ensure that the measures for child development are put in place in an appropriate manner and in terms of the central government policy as modified and adopted by the state government.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Secretary informed the court about the proposed meeting with Anant Asthana, a child rights lawyer; Geetanjali Ghosh, an assistant professor at the National Law School in Assam; and Laxmi Narayan Nanda, a UNICEF child protection specialist, to compile the Juvenile Justice Rules. She also proposed that the petitioner's side also participate by giving their suggestions.
Welcoming this endeavour of the Assam government, the court asked the authorities to inform the counsel for the petitioner of the proposed dates of the meeting so as to enable them to participate in the meeting either physically or virtually.
The next date of hearing is fixed for March 13, 2024.