The state Home Department has issued a circular to Gujarat Police to ensure proper implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act 2006 across police stations in the state.
This comes after senior officers observed that policemen are often reluctant to invoke the Juvenile Justice Act and often try to wrap up cases involving minors,faster.
The circular has ordered all policemen to follow the law or face action.
The Home Department has ordered the state police to form special juvenile justice unit in each commissionerate and superintendents office and not leave it alone for the women police stations to deal with such cases.
These units will cater to juveniles in need of care and protection (victims of child abuse,violence,flesh trade and missing children) and also for juveniles in conflict with law (children who commit crime).
The state government has also passed a model set of rules for the policemen to compulsorily follow while dealing with these cases henceforth while incorporating the amendments in the Act made in 2006.
Director General of Police Chitranjan Singh said,The Superintendents of Police or Commissioners will act as the nodal officers of these units.
The JJ Act came into being in 2000,and the state government implemented it in 2003. After a gap of almost nine years,the government took the initiative to treat women police stations in the state as Special Juvenile Justice Units.
The women police stations were asked to set up children protection cells/ crisis intervention centre for care and protection of children. But as these cells were not set up in all the women police stations,the state government has now passed an order that all district and commissionerates will set up one Special Juvenile Justice Unit in their offices.
A policeman of the rank of a constable or an assistant sub-inspector will be appointed as a child welfare officer and during their transfer or promotion,they must be transferred in similar such units.
Besides,the child welfare officers,while dealing in cases of child abuse,violence and physical and mental harassment,will follow Section 85(7) of the Juvenile Justice Rules (2011) and ensure that the special juvenile justice units provide protection to the juveniles in conflict with law (children who commit crime).
The notification said that for such children,the police officers will have to produce them in special juvenile justice units within 24 hours and exempt them from keeping them in lockups in any given situation.
Under Section 86(11) of the JJ Act,officers found mishandling or misdealing with juveniles in need of care and protection will be dismissed from service and a departmental inquiry invoked against them.
The Home Department said that the ADGP SC/ST Cell and Weaker Sections,and State Human Rights Commission will prepare reports on the implementation of the Special Juvenile Justice Units and the cases under the JJ Act,at regular intervals for the state government.
Sources added that the policemen often do not book cases of JJ Act to avoid procedures of the JJ Board and also because the children have to be sent to observation homes.
They said that in most cases the children are bailed out but the policemen at the local police station often create delays in taking these children to court and keep them locked.
In a recent case of (children in conflict with law) five minors from Ahmedabad were arrested in connection with the theft of logos of luxury cars.
These children were kept in the lock up for 32 hours before being produced in the Juvenile Justice Board in Ahmedabad court. The children were booked under JJ Act and CrPc 41 (B),but locked in cells.
In another case,a minor boy caught stealing mobiles in the city,was booked under Section 392 of the Indian Penal Code but not the JJ Act.
He was later taken to the JJ Board without registering a case of JJ Act.