The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) of Mumbai recently instructed members of the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to remain available on Sundays and public holidays to hear remands of juveniles in conflict with the law. This is to ensure that juveniles detained for committing crimes are not produced in regular courts owing to the unavailability of JJB members.
The letter sent by the CMM to all Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrates, Metropolitan Magistrates, the Mumbai Police and the Government Railway Police noted that juveniles are produced before holiday remand courts presided over by regular magistrates instead of before the JJB at Umerkhadi in Dongri. Only one courtroom each at Esplanade, Dadar, Bandra and Borivali court centres is functional on holidays to hear remand of fresh arrests.
As per guidelines issued by the Bombay High Court, the production of juveniles before regular magistrates contravenes provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the letter stated. According to the Act, juveniles in conflict with the law must be produced before board members even on days when the board is not sitting. Juveniles are also required to be escorted to designated children’s courts by police officials in plainclothes, without handcuffs and ensuring that they do not come into contact with adults who have committed crimes.
“Therefore on holidays or whenever the Juvenile Justice Board is not sitting, the juvenile in conflict with law has to be produced before the Principal Magistrate/ Member of Juvenile Justice Board for remand or other purpose,” added the letter.
The CMM also instructed the police to henceforth not produce apprehended juveniles before regular magistrates on Sundays and public holidays. The four Principal Magistrates of the JJB for Mumbai City and Mumbai Suburban districts, and their class 3 and class 4 staff members have also bean instructed to make themselves available on alternate Sundays at the children’s court in Umerkhadi.
A senior Mumbai Police official, however, claimed that juveniles apprehended in crimes on holidays are never produced in regular court where they may come into contact with adult criminals. “There is always an arrangement in place at the JJB on Sundays and public holidays so that it remains open between 11 am and 2 pm to hear cases of remand,” added the official.
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