HC Wants Special Security Units in Juvenile Homes

NEW DELHI | APR 15, 2014

The Delhi High Court today asked the city police to set up a special unit to tackle emergent as well as other safety and security situations arising in observation homes housing juveniles in conflict with law.

A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and R V Easwar directed Delhi police to "assess and put in place a mechanism" which would be "more in the nature of a special cell to cater not only to the emergent situations but also shoulder the other responsibilities".

It did not concur with the proposal of Delhi police, represented by Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra, that the command room, headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, is equipped to tackle the situations arising in observation homes.

"It has not worked. We have had 6-7 incidents, three of them very violent," the bench said, adding "eventually, there has to be a separate unit to take care of such situations. We are not looking at emergencies only".

"Initially, the unit can be created from within the police force. They can be educated and sensitized about the situation in observation homes. Eventually, there has to be a separate unit," the court said.

The Department of Women and Child Development, in a status report, has said it had requested the Delhi Police Commissioner to designate a Joint Commissioner-level officer as a nodal officer to coordinate with the department on various issues relating to safety and security of observation homes.

It had also said a separate cell was required to be set up under the department and it should be headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and include 3-4 police officers.

Delhi Police, however, did not agree with the department's proposal and said, "The demand of Social Welfare Department to create a separate police unit under the Department of Women and Child Development would not be able to serve the purpose as they would not be present round-the-clock in case of any emergency.

"It would be in the best interest for a speedy and immediate response to utilize the existing infrastructure available with Delhi police at the Police Control Room which is headed by an ACP."

Police also said that in order to seek assistance of the police, the person in charge of the observation home must do so with a written request.

The court did not agree and said response time in jails is "lightening fast" whereas in observation homes it is not so as forms need to be filled up.

However, the ASG said the police are trying to "get rid of the bureaucratic wrangle".

In February this year, after some juveniles had escaped from an observation home here, the high court had directed the city government to immediately deploy DGR personnel at such probation homes.

The government, however, had told the court that the same would take time as the modalities need to be worked out.

The government had earlier also told the court that a pilot project, meant to engage delinquent juveniles inside the observation homes, would be started and the "expression of interest" (EOI) has been called for from interested parties.

The court had taken suo motu cognizance of news reports on December 16 last year that a group of delinquent minors had escaped from an observation home after an eight-hour rampage during which they indulged in rioting, vandalism and arson. Similar incidents had also taken place after the incident.

Castigating the authorities for their failure to control rioting in juvenile homes here, the court had directed the government and police to ensure law and order and segregate the children involved in heinous crime in these shelters.

It had also asked the police to step up efforts to control the situation.