The Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the Centre for filing a “half-baked” affidavit in a matter related to the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act and said the government has to be serious about children of this country.
The top court observed that an 80-page affidavit has been filed by the Centre but it did not compile the data provided by states and Union territories and that complete information has not been given to the court.
A bench of justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the counsel representing the Centre that the affidavit should have been complete and accurate and asked the government to also inform as to how much money was lying in the juvenile justice fund of each state and union territory. “If you (Centre) are not serious about children, file an affidavit that you are not concerned about children. We will say Government of India is indispensable and will dismiss the plea,” the bench said.
“There are 29 states and seven Union territories. You want us to go through each one of this? You should have compiled it. Why did you do this? Whom are you trying to impress by filing an 80-page affidavit? There has to be some application of mind,” it said.
The apex court had in August asked the Centre to file an affidavit indicating whether the state commission for the protection of child rights and state child protection society were constituted in every state and Union territory. It had also asked the government to indicate in its affidavit certain other issues, including whether the juvenile justice boards (JJBs) and child welfare committees were set up in every district and if not, then the districts in which they were yet to be constituted.
At the outset, the bench asked the Centre’s counsel as to when the affidavit was prepared. When the counsel said it was prepared on October 11, the bench asked as to why the affidavit has not disclosed about the outcome of a meeting held on September 26 and attended by the authorities concerned on these issues. “You are taking it so casually. You say there was a meeting on September 26. You are saying you will not tell us what happened in that meeting when you have filed an affidavit on October 11. It is a big secret?” it further asked.
The Centre’s counsel sought two weeks time to file a chart giving all the details as directed by the court but the bench asked why they need so much time. When the counsel said they would have to get in touch with the states and Union territories to get the update, the bench shot back, “Don’t you have a telephone in your ministry? You call the state governments and get the data. You have to be serious about children of this country.”
“You should not have errors in the affidavit. It should be complete, accurate and correct. File a complete affidavit. Do not file a half-baked affidavit like this one,” it said and posted the matter for hearing on November 20.
The bench was hearing a PIL seeking implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act and its rules. The plea has raised the issue of alleged apathy by the governments in implementing the welfare legislation.