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HC asks govt to examine child rights activist’s report.

The High Court on Friday directed its registry to send a report by child rights activist Bharti Ali to the Jammu and Kashmir government so that it could examine it and take steps eventually to protect the rights of children in the state.

While issuing directions on a Public Interest Litigation seeking the implementation of Juvenile Justice Act in the state, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur directed its registry to send the report by Bharti to Chief Secretary of the state for consideration.

On August 16, the court requested Bharti Ali, HAQ, Center for Child Rights New Delhi to provide a list of the facilities and programs required to be provided in Child Care Homes – both for children in conflict with law and those in need of protection.

The bench had directed its Registry to send a copy of the order to Bharti, who may respond on e-mail.

In response to the e-mail, Bharti in her report has suggested that it is essential to set up a full-fledged department of Women and Child Development in the state like it is in other states of India. “It would help channelize as well as rationalize the existing resources for strengthening the institutional mechanisms for the children in the state,” she has said.

Bharti has said that it appears in Jammu and Kashmir institutions for children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection are currently managed by the Social Welfare Department and Integrated Children’s Protection Scheme (ICPS) which the activist said leads to some confusion.

“So far as the Juvenile Justice is concerned the state was earlier under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in Central Government and in so far as the state governments are concerned the same was under the department of Social Welfare. However on reorganization of relocation of business in 2006, full-fledged Ministry of Women and Child Development was set up at the center,” Bharti said in the report.

The report said while the subjects of the Child Protection and Juvenile Justice were assigned to the Ministry, subsequently in the states also department of Women and Child Development were set up to handle the concerns of children especially under two schemes ICDS and ICPS.

“So far as the Jammu and Kashmir state is concerned ICPS directorate stands created and under Social Welfare Department some schemes are in progress for child protection continues to be implemented.”

The court said it is necessary to note that rights of the children are concerned with several institutions provided under Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013 and rules 2014 formed under it.

“We are concerned with the Juvenile Justice Boards and the institutions involved – Child Welfare Committees, Children’s Homes, Observation Homes, as well as institutions owned and managed by NGOs, their registration and regulations,” the court said.

The Court directed that a copy of the report be given to senior advocate Bashir Ahmad Bashir who was assisting the court as amicus curie.  Additional Advocate General Asif Bhat represented the government.

The court was hearing a PIL seeking to ameliorate conditions of inmates in children care homes. In 2016, taking suo-moto cognisance of  poor facilities at government run orphanages, the HC had treated the report as Public Interest Litigation and initiated proceedings against the state.

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