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India has had interventions on justice for children first through the National Children’s Act, 1960. This was followed by the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 and presently the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, as amended in 2006. The Juvenile Justice Law in India deals with children in need of care and protection as well as children in conflict with law.
HAQ’s work on juvenile justice began in 2005 with providing legal aid to the children in conflict with law. Over the years, HAQ with the support of other stakeholders was able to ensure the presence of legal aid lawyers in the Juvenile Justice Boards. Since then, HAQ’s intervention in the boards has been largely confined to providing counselling to the children in conflict with law. The children needing counselling are marked to HAQ through orders of the magistrates.
HAQ has been engaged in the process of law making on juvenile justice since 1999 leading to the enactment of the current law. HAQ was part of the drafting committee set up to draft the rules for implementation of the law on juvenile justice both at the central and the provincial levels.
HAQ’s research on Juvenile Justice (Blind Alley by HAQ team and My God is a Juvenile Delinquent authored a HAQ Volunteer, Ruzbeh Bharucha) have been referred to widely and has impacted implementation of the JJ system in the country. They have been recommended as essential reading for judicial officers in the country by the National Legal Services Authority of India.
Following the controversy around the juvenile justice Act in the country, HAQ has led the legal interventions in the Supreme Court leading to judgements upholding the law. It was one of the organisations to receive the Juvenile Justice across Borders Award given by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO).
HAQ has worked closely with the judicial mechanisms to monitor and implement the law, is called upon to develop training materials and also train judicial officers, police and other functionaries in the JJ system.
In April 2013, HAQ organised an international colloquium on Juvenile Justice, the first on this subject in India. The participants included experts from Africa, Europe, Australia, United States of America, South East Asia and South Asia. (The conference report is available here).
At the international level, HAQ is a member of the IJJO-Asia Pacific, was represented on the Scientific Committee of the 6th IJJO conference in Brussels in December 2014 and the Thematic Committee of the World Congress on Juvenile Justice in 2015. HAQ has been part of the expert committees for the drafting of the UN Model Law on Juvenile Justice and the "Joint Report on Prevention of and Responses to Violence against Children within the Juvenile Justice System", presented at the Human Rights Council in 2012.