Earlier this year, Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna suo moto initiated a public interest litigation to address the deplorable conditions in the Observation Home for Boys in Madviala, Bangalore. The Division Bench observed that the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Karnataka Rules, 2010 were not being implemented seriously leading to various instances of attempted escapes, suicides, and riots in the Observation Home. The Asian Centre for Human Rights recently made a detailed report on the state of Juvenile Justice in the State of Karnataka.
Ms. Sumna Baliga, an advocate of the Karnataka High Court was duly appointed as the amicus curae in the above PIL. A smilar PIL was filed by CLPR on behalf of the NGO Ashraya and the Legal Services Clinic (comprising solely of students of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore). This PIL was heard along with the suo moto PIL and CLPR’s Jayna Kothari and Shruthi Ramakrishnan appeared in the matter.
Ms. Nina Nayak, the chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and other civil society organisations such as the Concerned for Working Children, and the Centre for Child and the Law were also heard in the course of the proceedings.
The Division Bench heard the matter and granted an interim order dated 06.06.2012 directing the Karnataka Department of Women and Child Development to set up the Management Committees, Inspection Committees and the Children’s Committees in all the Observation Homes in Karnataka within 10 days and report back to the Court. The Department accordingly set up the various Committees as per the provisions of the JJ Act and the Karnataka Rules.
The Division Bench pronounced the judgment in this matter on 05.07.2012, with the direction for a Judicial Committee to be set up comprising of four High Court Judges of which at least one is a woman judge. Apart from this, a ten member committee is to be set up comprising of government representations form the Department of Women and Child Development and from civil society organisations such as Ashraya. Various other statutory authorities from the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority and the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights are also included in this Committee.
A Committee of such kind is already functional in Delhi and is headed by the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.