‘Child homes under JJ Act’

Ashpreet Sethi NEW DELHI,Oct 2, 2012 dhns:

Orphanages must register under more stringent law, govt tells HC

The Centre has made clear in Delhi High Court that all childcare institutes have to get themselves registered under the Juvenile Justice Act, which is more stringent than a related law regulating  children’s homes. 

The clarification was made in an affidavit submitted recently in the court which is hearing the Arya Orphanage case. The Arya shelter had earlier this year faced a slew of allegations of abuse of children.

In its affidavit, the government stated that registration of children's institutes under the Women's and Children's Institutions (Licensing) Act is no longer applicable as per section 63 of the JJ Act, 1986. 

A sister institution of Arya Anathalaya in East of Kailash was contesting applicability of the JJ Act and the need for registration under that law. The institution argued that since it is already licensed under the Women's and Children’s Institutions (Licensing) Act, there was no need for it to get registered under the JJ Act. 

HAQ Center for Child Rights and Delhi government had, however, put forth the argument that with the enactment of JJ Act, the Women's and Children's Institutions (Licensing) Act stood “implied repealed” or not applicable. 

The High Court then asked the Centre   to make its position clear. “The JJ Act, 1986 (53 of 1986) was enacted with the objective of putting in place a uniform juvenile justice system for neglected as well as delinquent children across the country. Section 63 of this Act repealed any corresponding laws on the subject and other state enactments that existed before it,” the affidavit submitted on Septermber 26 said.

Child rights activists have repeatedly complained that most institutions for children are reluctant to get registered under the JJ Act as they then become accountable to the state government for their actions. 

For registration under the JJ Act, institutions are supposed to submit a copy of their rules and bylaws, memorandum of association, list of the governing body members and office bearers and balance sheets for past three years. 

Taking account of media reports on sexual abuses on children at different homes, Union women and child development minister Krishna Tirath, minister of Women and Child Development minister had sent letters to various chief ministers in June, stressing on mandatory registration of institutions under the JJ Act. 

Activists have expressed happiness over the government’s clarification on this “long-pending confusion”. The next hearing is on November 19.