Minors in jails: HC raps govt for laxity

Abhinav Garg TNN 

New Delhi:Despite 178 underage prisoners being found in the 10 adult jails here, the Delhi government has failed to constitute Visitor Boards that allow periodical screening of juvenile offenders.

    The Delhi high court on Wednesday pulled up the government for its failure to implement its earlier direction on establishing Visitor Boards in jails and gave it four weeks 
to do so. It was hearing a PIL on juveniles being incarcerated in various jails in Delhi, in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act. 
    A division bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Manmohan rejected the government’s justification that it is awaiting inputs from the National Human Rights Commission on this issue. “Why do you need to take advice from someone else? Our orders are clear,” HC observed. 

    In August this year HC had directed the state government to ensure Visitor Boards are constituted within six weeks. It had acted on a letter petition sent to it by advocate Anant Asthana, highlighting the Delhi Prison Rules of 1988, which require the establishment of Visitor Boards in each jail. 
    In his plea, the advocate complained that many children are languishing in jails. His apprehensions proved to be true when the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DLSA) informed HC that, so far, 178 people lodged in jails in Delhi are juveniles and have now been referred to Juvenile Justice Boards. 
    “Constitution of Visitor Boards will ensure that problems in jails are noticed by an independent body and are addressed. They will go a long way in ensuring better treatment of prisoners,” the petitioner argued.