TAMIL NADU STATE LEVEL MEETING ON IMPLEMENTATION OF MONITORING MECHANISM FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Date : 26-09-2010
Venue: Tamil Nadu Judicial Academy, Chennai
Tamil Nadu State level meeting on implementation of Monitoring mechanism for Juvenile Justice System was organized by Legal Assistance Forum in association with unicef at Tamil Nadu Judicial Academy, Chennai on 26th September, 2010.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice P. Sathasivam, Judge, Supreme Court of India, Hon’ble Mr. Justice M.Y. Eqbal, Chief Justice, Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Chitra Venkatraman Judge incharge for juvenile justice, Madras High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice A. S. Venkatachalmurty, Chairperson, Tamil Nadu Human Rights Commission, Mrs. Archana Ramasundaram, Additional Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu, and other senior police officers, officials of Social Defence Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, officers of unicef, Principal Magistrates of all the Juvenile Justice Boards, Advocates of Madras High Court and NGO representatives graced the occasion by their presence amongst others.
Mr. D. Sarvanan, Advocate, Madras High Court, State Coordinator for Tamil Nadu, LAF invited the dignitaries to take their seats which was followed by an invocation song in Tamil.
Mr. P.I.Jose, Advocate, Supreme Court and Secretary, LAF extended a warm welcome to all Mr. Jose pointed out that LAF is guided by the principle “A child in conflict with law is a child in need of care & protection and not a criminal”. He also briefly mentioned the activities of LAF.
Mr. Vijay Hansaria, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court and President, LAF made power point presentation of Monitoring Mechanism for Juvenile Justice System. Mr. Hansaria thanked Hon'ble Justice Sathasivam for accepting the invitation of LAF and for his guidance in the implementation of the project. He explained the various forms under the mechanism can be used as a tool for collecting information and disseminating the same to the decision makers so as to ensure effective implementation of JJ Act and Rules.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice P. Sathasivam, Judge, Supreme Court of India who was the chief guest of the function explained the constitutional and other legal provisions including judicial pronouncements of the apex court relating to Juvenile Justice system. Hon'ble Justice Sathasivam emphasized that interest of children is the key in the functioning of the Juvenile Justice System. He lauded the sincere efforts put forth by LAF in piloting the monitoring mechanism in Tami Nadu and also observed that this must be expanded to whole of the country. He suggested that Legal Service Authority should be involved in the implementation of the project which is necessary for imparting justice to the juvenile. Mr. Justice Sathasivam expressed the view that the monitoring mechanism may be included in the Rules under Juvenile Justice Act being finalized by the State of Tamil Nadu.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice M.Y. Eqbal, Chief Justice, Madras High Court in his presidential address appraised the gathering about judicial orders passed by the Madras High Court in a PIL pending before the High Court and the recommendations of the Committee appointed by the High Court to give suggestions for improving the functioning of the Juvenile Justice System in the State. He also shared his personal experience while making a surprise visit to Observation Home in Chennai and subsequent action taken. Hon'ble Chief Justice highlighted that JJ Act provides for involvement of NGOs in a big way and appreciated the efforts of LAF in conceptualizing the monitoring mechanism which would be useful in bringing about the improvement of the system.
Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Chitra Venkatraman, Judge in charge for Juvenile Justice, Madras High Court highlighted that reformative and rehabilitative approach should be adopted while dealing with juvenile. Mrs. Justice Venkatraman pointed out that there are only 8 Juvenile Justice Boards for the 30 Districts in Tamil Nadu which has resulted in huge pendency of cases. She also said that in the past legal aid was made available to juvenile only upto the stage of bail whereas every juvenile is entitled to legal aid during the entire enquiry as a matter of right under the provisions of Legal Services Authorities Act. She was of the view that the Monitoring Mechanism prepared by LAF would be very useful for case management by the Boards. However, the Mechanism needs statutory force by incorporation of the same in Rules to make it enforceable.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.S.Venkatachalmurthy, Chairperson, Tamil Nadu Human Rights Commission, suggested that the reporting forms should include personal descriptions of apprehended juvenile like their sex, date of birth and photograph for ensuring correct identification. He expressed hope that the system of reporting will ensure accountability among the stakeholders and will enhance the quality of juvenile justice administration in the State.
Mrs. Archana Ramasundaram, IPS, Additional Director General of Police, State of Tamil Nadu, urged the need for change of mindset while dealing with children in conflict with law. She pointed out the need for adequate training to the police personal, probation officers and other staff of the observation homes, who are handling the juveniles. Mrs. Ramasundaram also advocated for psychological counselling and vocational training for juveniles so that they are easily reintegrated to the main fabric of society. She also suggested that the format suggested by LAF should be integrated with the reporting system adopted by the State Crime Bureau.
Mrs. Kaliammal, Superintendent, Social Defence Department, Government of Tamil Nadu presented the current scenario prevailing in the State after introduction of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme. She informed the gathering that the State Rules under the Juvenile Justice Act are at the final stage and are pending approval of the Law Department. The Monitoring Mechanism would be a useful tool for improving the system and would be appropriate to forward it to the Law Department before finalization of the new rules. . She also informed that JJBs would be constituted in all the Districts very soon and training programmes would be organised in association with unicef and NGOs.
All the Principal Magistrates of the Juvenile Justice Boards in the State of Tamil Nadu actively participated in the deliberations by shaing their experiences and explaining the practical difficulties faced by them because of the absence of JJBs in all the districts. It was pointed that apart from discharging their duties as Principal Magistrates of JJB, they are discharging regular judicial works, which has also resulted in pendency of cases. It was suggested that in the case of petty offences, police should take appropriate steps to dispose off the case at the police station level and avoid presenting them before JJB. It was also suggested that police should submit Social Background Report at the time of production of the juvenile.
Unicef was represented in the seminar by Mr. Vidyasagar and Mr. Jayaram of the Chennai unit. Mr. Vidyasagar, Child Protection Officer, unicef was of the opinion that implementation of monitoring mechanism will go a long way in catalysing an attitudinal shift among the stakeholders for adopting a juvenile centric approach. He assured all further support for implementation of the project.
LAF national team comprising of Ms. Ritu Bhardwaj, Mr. Jayesh K.U, Jt. Secretaries, Ms. Sneha Kalita, Asst. Treasurer and Mr. Anupam Mishra, Executive Member were actively involved in organisation of the conference.
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sathasivam in his closing remarks appreciated the personal interest taken by Hon'ble the Chief Justice for improving the Juvenile Justice System in the State of Tamil Nadu. He also said that due to sincere efforts of Justice Chitra Venkatraman and others, the State would see marked difference in the dispensation of justice to the juvenile and the Monitoring Mechanism proposed by LAF would be a useful tool for the improvement.
Mr. K.S. Bhati, Treasurer, LAF proposed vote of thanks and assured the gathering that LAF in association with unicef will not leave any stone untouched in its endeavour to facilitate delivery of quality justice to the children of the country.
The meeting ended with national anthem.