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Friday, December 03, 2021

Feedback invited: Draft amendments to JJ rules empowers DMs

Functions of the court, including procedure for obtaining adoption order, have been transferred to DMs, and courts will no longer be involved in the process, under the draft amendments.

Written by Esha Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: October 29, 2021 8:34:27 am
juvenile justice model rulesJuvenile justice amendment Bill, 2021, which seeks to amend the 2015 law, was passed in both Houses of Parliament earlier this year.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued the notification for draft amendments to Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016, and invited feedback.

Juvenile justice amendment Bill, 2021, which seeks to amend the 2015 law, was passed in both Houses of Parliament earlier this year.

The mainstay of the Bill, and now the Rules published by the ministry, is transfer of authority to district magistrates (DM) and additional district magistrates (ADM) in several cases – such as for adoption and overseeing childcare institutions and welfare of children in need of care, including children in conflict with law.

According to the new rules, DMs and ADMs will oversee actions taken with respect to child marriage cases in their respective districts and facilitate action for education and awareness regarding impact of child marriage on children. They are also to ensure supervision and support to girls and boys saved from child marriage.

The amendments include authorising DMs and ADMs to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of JJ Act, to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability.

According to the proposed rules, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) will now furnish data relating to children declared legally free for adoption and cases pending for decision to DMs and online, in formats provided in adoption regulations, and also to the respective state adoption resource agencies with the assistance of district child protection units. Functions of the court, including procedure for obtaining adoption order, have been transferred to DMs, and courts will no longer be involved in the process, under the draft amendments.

Where the child has remained with a foster family for a minimum five years, other than in pre-adoption foster care, the foster family may now apply for adoption and will be given preference to adopt the child after she/he is declared legally free for adoption, and after registering in the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System under procedures laid down in adoption regulations.

“In such cases, if any relaxation in procedure to declare the child legally free for adoption is required, the CWC shall obtain the permission of the State Agency,’’ the rules say.

Childcare institutions or specialised adoption agencies housing children who have been declared legally free for adoption are to submit reports to the DM concerned every month about the number of children declared legally free for adoption, as also their status. In cases where a specialised adoption agency falls within jurisdiction of two districts, it is required to submit its monthly report to DMs of both districts.

“The District Magistrate will review the report submitted by Child Care Institution and Specialized Adoption Agency and shall take measures to expedite the process of adoption of children declared legally free for adoption,’’ the rules say.

DMs will also be responsible for issuing no-objection certificates in all cases of inter-country adoptions and in form Indian missions abroad and immigration authorities of India and the receiving country of the child about inter-country adoption cases. Boards set up in districts to look after child welfare, in particular at cases of children in conflict with law, are to submit a six-monthly situational analysis report to the DM concerned regarding the types of crime committed by children in the district. Under the draft amendments, DMs will also be required to ensure reduction of pendency of cases before the Juvenile Justice Board and have been empowered to take action against any Board member.

The DMs will have supervision of these Boards, CWC, district child protection units and childcare institutions (CCI) which they are to supervise physically, the draft rules sayu. New CCIs will have to submit a plan of action for providing medical, vocational, educational, counselling services, etc, to children, it says.

Under the draft, DMs will also be required to draw up sponsorship plans for the district to generate resources through public and private contributions, and ensure that vulnerable children in the district are supported partially or fully. They are to ensure scholarships for higher education, loans for education or starting small business for children leaving Child care Institutions and that all the children in need of care and protection of children in conflict with law are admitted in school for age-appropriate education and get other entitlements in accordance with Right to Education Act.

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