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Need for independent child, women department: Justice Masoodi.

Justice Hasnain Masoodi, chairperson selection-cum-oversight committee under the Juvenile Justice Act on Tuesday called for an independent women and child development department and directorate so that juvenile justice and gender justice are made a reality to the two unattended segments of the society.

The Integrated Child Protection Scheme intended to act as an implementing arm of Juvenile Justice Act, according to Justice Masoodi, has not achieved the expected results mostly because of under utilisation and, at times, non- utilisation of funds earmarked for the scheme.

The scheme involving Centre-State partnership in the ratio of 90:10, conceived a few years ago at an estimated cost of about Rs 70 crore and sanctioned for an amount of  Rs 30 crore has, over the years, come down to a meagre Rs 1.5 crore, that too, revalidated from previous year.

The Central government, it is pointed out, has not been in a position to grant further funds due to under-utilisation of funds granted and non-submission of utilisation certificate. The reason for under-utilisation of funds over the years, Justice Masoodi said, is that the social welfare department is overburdened, making it impossible to give due attention to implementation of JJ Act and ICPS.

Though a strong will at the highest decision-making level during 2016-2018 to effectively implement the scheme, followed by positive approach of an advisor to the governor and strenuous efforts of present administrative secretary like appointment for the first time of a full-time Mission Director have helped to cross a few milestones, yet heavy workload of the department continues to be a big hurdle.

Justice Masoodi said that creation of a separate and independent women and child development department and directorate is the answer to the problem of slow execution of the ICPS and other structures and overall implementation of JJ Act. The matter, according to Justice Masoodi, was taken up in his recent meeting with the Governor and is expected to find consideration of the government.

The Oversight Committee plans to convene a Round Table Conference on 2 November 2018 at Srinagar to discuss and debate on draft Juvenile Justice Bill, 2018. The child right activists, opinion makers, civil society members, media persons and academics have been invited to RTC so that the proposed Act is future-oriented and accommodates all shades of opinion.

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