The Hon’ble SC in the matter of Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in State of TN v. Union of India has given a verdict on Tuesday stating that any child who is in conflict with law cannot be kept in Police lockup or Jail under any serious circumstances. The apex court held that a child in conflict with law u/s 10 of Juvenile Justice Act must be placed in a special juvenile police unit or welfare child unit (designated) only but not under regular police custody or jail. The order was moved by Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) Aparna Bhat, contending the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police for their illegal acts of detaining minor children in the regular custody. Bhat also contented that despite the apex court’s direction on December 2018, the children are being subjected to several abuse and mishandling by the local state police authorities. On hearing the petitioner’s contentions, the bench comprising of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose directed the state and national commission to submit their reports within 3 weeks. The Hon’ble SC stated that u/s 12(1) of the JJ Act the child alleged to be in conflict with law must be released on bail with or without sureties.
"Sub-section (1) [Section 12 of JJ Act] makes it absolutely clear that a child speculated to be in conflict with law should be released on bail with or without surety or placed under the supervision of a probation officer or under the care of any fit person. The only embargo created is that in case the release of the child is likely bring him into association with known criminals or expose the child to moral, physical or psychological danger or where the release of the juvenile would defeat the ends of justice, then bail may be denied for reasons to be recorded in writing even if bail isn't granted, the child can not be kept in jail or police lockup and must be kept in an observation home or place of safety".
"All JJBs within the country must follow the letter and spirit of the provisions of the Act. We make it clear that the JJBs are not meant to be silent spectators and pass orders only if a matter comes before them. They can take note of the factual situation if it involves the knowledge of the JJBs that a child has been detained in prison or police lock up. It is the duty of the JJBs to ensure that the child is immediately granted bail or sent to an observation home or a place of safety. The Act can't be flouted by anybody, least of all the police," the bench observed.
On exceptional circumstance the bail can be denied, the alleged child cannot be kept in any regular custody but has to be kept in an observation home or any place of safety. The court also directed all the Juvenile Justice Boards to follow this order and the spirit of the Act. The SC directed Legal Services Committee to give an honorarium of Rs. 2 lakhs to Ms. Bhat out of the funds available for juvenile justice issues.