FIR to be registered against children in conflict with law only in heinous offence

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No First Information Report (FIR) will be registered against the children in conflict with the law in J&K, except where a “heinous offence is alleged to have been committed by the child or when such offence is alleged to have been committed jointly with adults.”

In all other matters, the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) or the Child Welfare Police Officer (CWPO) will record the information regarding the “offence alleged to have been committed by the child in the general daily diary followed by a social background report of the child and circumstances under which the child was apprehended, wherever applicable and forward it to the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) before the first hearing.”

These provisions form part of “The Jammu & Kashmir Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children) Rules- 2021”, notified by the UT admini-stration.

Rules clearly specify that the police officer ap-prehending a child, alleged to be in conflict with law, will not send him or her “to a police lock-up and not delay the child being transferred to the Child Welfare Police Officer from the nearest police station.”

The child cannot be hand-cuffed, chained or otherwise fettered. The police officer cannot use any coercion or force on the child and will have to in-form the child promptly and directly of the charges levelled against him or her through his or her parent or guardian. As per a notification issued by the So-cial Welfare Department secretary Sheetal Nanda, these rules will come into force on the date of their publication in the official gazette.

Rules stipulate that there will be one or more Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) and Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) in each district to be consti-tuted by the government of Jammu and Kashmir through a notification in the official gazette.

Juvenile justice Board will consist of a Metro-politan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of First Class having at least three years experience to be designated as the Principal Magistrate of the Board and two social worker members, of whom one will be a woman, forming a Bench.

In no circumstances, the Board will operate “from within any court or jail premises.” It will hold its sittings in the “premises of an observation home or at a place in proximity to the observation home or at a suitable premise in any Child Care Institution”, meant for children in conflict with law, run under the Act.

With regard to procedure in relation to children in conflict with law vis-a-vis pre-production action of police and other agencies, the Rules provide that the power to apprehend (the children) will only be exercised with regard to heinous offences, unless it “is in the best interest of the child.”

For all other cases involving petty and serious offences and cases where apprehending the child is not necessary in the interest of the child, the police or SJPU or CWPO will forward the information regarding the nature of offence alleged to be com-mitted by the child along with his social background report to the Board. He will intimate the parents or guardian of the child as to when the child is to be produced for hearing before the Board.

“When a child alleged to be in conflict with law is apprehended by the police, the police officer con-cerned shall place the child under the charge of the Special Juvenile Police Unit or the Child Welfare Police Officer. The latter (CWPO) shall immedi-ately inform the parents or guardian of the child that the child has been apprehended along with the ad-dress of the Board where the child will be produced and the date and time when the parents or guardian need to be present before the Board,” the Rules specify.

He will also immediately inform the Probation Officer concerned that the child has been appre-hended so as to enable him to obtain information regarding social background of the child and other material circumstances likely to be of assistance to the Board for conducting the inquiry. Besides, a Child Welfare Officer or a case worker will be in-formed to accompany the SJPU or CWPO while producing the child before the Board within twenty-four hours of his or her apprehension.

“If a First Information Report is registered, a copy of the same shall be made available to the child or a copy of the police report shall be given to the parent or guardian,” it has been specified.—GK

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