The Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority (MALSA) along with a field action project — Resource Cell of Juvenile Justice (RCJJ), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, has launched socio-legal cells for juveniles in conflict with law in the state.
One such cell for Thane district was inaugurated on Monday by officials from the District Services Legal Authority and the magistrates of the Juvenile Justice Board.
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Another cell has been functional in Mumbai for the past month for the two Juvenile Justice Boards operating from the Dongri Observation Home, and the third one is in Yerawada, Pune.
The cells seek to provide legal aid to juveniles in conflict with law and also to draw up individual rehabilitation plans by the intervention of three social workers. A recent study done with the permission of the Bombay High Court by RCJJ on legal aid in the juvenile justice system had recommended the setting up of such a cell to work with various stakeholders, including parents, juveniles and lawyers, for the best interests of the child in an informal environment.
“Earlier, the lawyer would only work on the case and the social workers of the NGOs would only work on the rehabilitation aspect. When a juvenile enters the system, rehabilitation can be begun immediately, instead of awaiting his release. Some children are addicted, some have dropped out of school. We can work on their exact needs, instead of direct bail. The social worker can access the issues and ensure that the child is given personalised bail with conditions for rehabilitation like de-addiction or compulsory vocational training,” said KP Asha Mukundan, assistant professor in TISS who heads RCJJ.