SC order infuses life into CIDís child protection cell project
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Nine years after a central law ó The Juvenile Justice Act (2000) ó was passed and six years after Gujarat decided to implement it, the women cell of the CID took up the initiative in 2009 to set up juvenile justice units in all women police stations. But the project got shelved due to various reasons.
Now, the project has got a new life after the SC's order of January 17, 2013, following which all women police stations in Gujarat will host Child Protection Cells (CPCs) or juvenile justice units to handle cases for both "juveniles in need of care" (who are missing, victims of human trafficking, left homes, etc) and "juveniles in conflict with law" (minors found committing crimes under the Juvenile Justice Act).
These children can be handed over to an adoption centre or an ashram if they have been abandoned or forcefully brought into labour work or begging.
The children who are found committing crimes should be also intervened and brought to these units for counselling before being taken to observation homes for their terms.
"The SC order has given a boost to restart the project that was lying unattended for a long time. Now the women police stations will work as full-time juvenile justice units with CPCs, also in rural districts where juvenile cases of both nature will be probed by women cops. This has given a push to the state to set up these units, which we had long thought of," said IGP CID (Women Cell) Anil Pratham.
The project had faced several hitches in 2009, the biggest being the shortage of women police officials. Those already in force were reluctant to get additional duties for juvenile cases. The CID had even trained 80-odd women cops with lectures and seminars on juvenile laws by child rights activists, lawyers, NGOs and expert training sessions in New Delhi to run these units.
In 2011, the Home Department had issued a notification to implement the Juvenile Justice Act in toto, stating that an ASI or constable-rank cop would be appointed as child welfare officer. The children found committing crime should be produced before the JJ Board within 24 hours and not kept in police station lockups.
The Ahmedabad woman police station was the first to begin the juvenile justice unit by reserving one section of the police station. The section was planned to be painted with bright colours, decorated with toys, books etc, and one regular assistant from an NGO to help the child welfare officer. However, the unit was soon converted into a seating arrangement area, which was torched during clashes in October 2012.
The CID has now decided to reactive its old project and train women officers again (if necessary) to hand over the task of juvenile units. "The project faced shortage of funds and lack of push that could help develop these units in even district women police stations. With this, the state police would recruit more women cops to be able to run these units filling up all the vacancies in districts. Even if we cannot bring about the same concept of a bright patch in women police stations, the Home Department will allot suitable budget for women police stations to help them set up fully equipped units," Pratham added.
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