Lower juvenile age: Home chief

Abhinav Garg TNN 

New Delhi: Despite regular monitoring by the Delhi high court, the problem of juvenile delinquency continues to worsen in the city, leaving many wondering what more needs to be done. 
    An HC bench took suo motu cognizance of the violence at Majnu Ka Tila in August this year and is hearing stakeholders on how to prevent such incidents in future. 
    While NGOs and child activists harp on lack of facilities in children homes run by the Delhi government, there is a growing section that believes it is the Juvenile Justice Act which is proving more of a hindrance than a solution. Delhi Police officers and public prosecutors privately admit that it is nearly impossible to reform a delinquent juvenile who is a repeat offender as he knows how to misuse the Act to escape punishment. 
    Shaken by Saturday night’s incident at Sewa Kutir, its superintendent Anil Kumar had just one answer when asked how to stop incidents like these — “Lower the juvenile age, segregate the repeat offenders and treat them as adults.” Kumar pointed out that there is a small bunch of habitual offenders who no longer fear anyone, be it staffers of the police because they know they can literally get away with murder as long as they are under 18. He lamented that courts have not given enough attention to this aspect but remain focused on procedural and infrastructure issues. “No one hears us even though we are running the day-to-day functioning of the homes. What’s our experience, what we consider to be the problem areas, no one wants to know,” he says. 
    However, every authority from HC-appointed Juvenile Justice Commitee to DCPCR to NCPCR has repeatedly indicted people like Kumar for absence of infrastructure and management. In its latest affidavit on condition of juvenile homes, filed in HC last month, the state government admitted there is no segregation and special homes, observation home and place of safety are housed inside the same complex in Majnu Ka Tila. 
    Several HC-appointed committees, reports and activists have stressed that the JJ Act demands segregation of inmates on the basis of age and nature of offences.


A small group of offenders no longer fear anyone, says home staff