Concerned by “lack of sensitivity among police officers” in an alleged custodial death of a 15-year-old boy in Birbhum district, the Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the state home secretary and the director general of police to submit by November 25 reports on CCTV cameras and child-friendly corners in police stations across the state.
A division Bench headed by Justice Harish Tandon said, “The Home Secretary, Government of West Bengal, is directed to submit an affidavit disclosing the status of CCTVs in all police stations, including child friendly corner… with proper infrastructure and SJPUs and / or designated child welfare police officer on or before 25th November 2011.”
Mallarpur villagers in Birbhum had accused the police of custodial death after the boy, arrested on suspicion of theft, was found hanging in the toilet of the Mallarpur Police Station on October 29.
“The custodial death is one of the worst crimes in a civilised society governed by the rule of law. The incident shocked the conscience of every responsible citizens more, particularly the irresponsible behaviour and lack of sensitivity of the police officers who have the solemn responsibility to protect the rights of a citizen, more particularly the right recognised and guaranteed for the minors in conflict with law,” underlined the court.
The division bench also asked Birbhum district superintendent of police to set up child-friendly corners in every police station under his jurisdiction.
“The Superintendent of Police is directed to ensure that the child friendly corner at every police station within his jurisdiction is restored or set up within a fortnight from date, and all facilities and arrangements including deployment of SJPUs are regularised and maintained. It is again unfortunate that there is no female police officer kept in the juvenile protection unit or child friendly corner, and the entire so-called child friendly corner is taken care of by a civic volunteer who does not have any role nor owe any allegiance to the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,” the court said.
It added, “It is hereby ordered that civil volunteers should not be permitted either to be deployed in child friendly corner nor part of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, and it shall be manned by a regular SJPU as designated child welfare police officer who can be held responsible for their lapses or negligence in discharging their duties.”
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