Delhi HC pulls up government on security at juvenile homes

New Delhi, Feb 25: The Delhi High Court Tuesday slammed the Delhi government for suggesting the shifting of juvenile homes to the Tihar Jail campus for security, a day after 44 minors escaped from a juvenile justice home.

The high court Tuesday summoned the principal secretary of the department of women and child development and asked him to submit a report on the incident.

The division bench of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice R.V. Easwar pulled up the department for its suggestion to shift the juvenile homes to the Tihar Jail campus, and said the “juvenile justice regime was meant to keep these children out of jail”.

“The whole point was to come up with a new design and system. If you say you can’t keep them secure, it is admitting defeat,” the court said.

The high court last year took suo motu cognizance of an incident when juveniles went on a rampage and the government officials failed to control the rioting.

During the hearing, advocate A.J. Bhambhani, appointed as amicus curiae in the case, also objected to the suggestion of shifting, and said the children were meant to be kept in a special place, not a jail.

“If they are kept in jail, there will be more psychological damage,” he said.

The bench also directed that retired army men should be deployed within three days at the juvenile homes for the purpose of security.

“You have cleared the proposal in principle. Deploy them (ex-army men) within 72 hours. Work out the details later,” the bench said.

Appearing for the Delhi government, advocate Zubeda Begum informed the court that the lt. governor has called a meeting of police and social welfare department officials Thursday to look into the various issues of security at juvenile homes.

The social welfare department also suggested that a senior police officer could be appointed as a nodal officer to expedite response of police when such incidents occur.

The department’s official told the court that the Police Control Room took 45 minutes to respond to calls during Monday’s incident.

Hearing the arguments, the bench asked the government to consider appointing a nodal officer and also directed that additional PCR vans should be deployed near juvenile homes.

The incident happened around 4 p.m. Monday at a juvenile justice home in Mukherjee Nagar, when two minors were being shifted to another location in Majnu Ka Tila area. According to officials, only six juveniles out of 44 returned to the home till Tuesday afternoon.

The bench asked the Delhi government to submit a comprehensive report of the incident by March 6.

Earlier this month, the court ordered surprise checks of juvenile homes at regular intervals and issued guidelines for the safety of juveniles lodged in such homes after four incidents of rioting took place last year.

IANS