The Delhi High Court on Wednesday made it mandatory to have age-determination tests conducted on all those arrested whose age is mentioned as between 18 and 21 years,in order to ensure no minor is lodged in Tihar Jail.
Also coming to the rescue of more than 100 such inmates currently incarcerated in Tihar,a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed the jail authorities to house such persons separately till they are produced before the Juvenile Justice Board and a final call is taken on their age.
Perusing the report of a survey conducted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) on juveniles in jail,the bench noted: The startling revelations demonstrate that no proper investigation was conducted by police at the time of the arrest or by the magistrates when the arrested were produced before them.
At least 114 juveniles were lodged in Tihar Jail between October 2010 and August 2011. They were shifted to observation homes only after family members and lawyers protested that they cannot be lodged in jail as they were yet to attain adulthood.
An RTI reply received by the social group,Haq-Centre for Child Rights,brought issue to the notice of the court,which took suo motu cognisance.
The court held that until guidelines were formulated,some imminent directives were required since lodging delinquents who are,prima facie,juveniles amounted to violation of their right to life and liberty and also human rights. The bench was also apprised of an instance wherein a delinquent declared to be 15 years of age by a juvenile court in 2009 was sent to Tihar in 2011 after being arrested in connection with another case as neither police nor the magistrate looked into the aspect of properly determining his age.
The court directed police to mention the age of the arrested person in their arrest memo. It also directed magistrates to order an inquiry into the age of persons who appear to be juveniles.
The NCPCR was asked to complete its survey of Tihar Jail and produce a report in the court by the next date of hearing.