Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 4
The Supreme Court on Friday asked Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) to consider releasing children in conflict with law residing in Observation Homes to prevent spread of COVID-19 pandemic among them.
"JJB shall consider taking steps to release all children on bail, unless there are clear and valid reasons for the application of the proviso to Section 12, JJ Act, 2015," a Bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao -- which had taken suo motu cognisance of the issue -- said in an order.
The top court said, "Video conferencing or online sittings can be held to prevent contact for speedy disposal of cases."
The Bench asked the authorities to ensure that counselling services were provided for all children in Observation Homes.
"It is important to consider that violence, including sexual violence may be exacerbated in contexts of anxiety and stress produced by lockdown and fear of the disease. JJBs would need to monitor the situation in the Observation Homes on a regular basis," the top court said.
It also directed all state governments to immediately circulate information to all Child Care Institutions as to how to deal with COVID 19 with instructions that awareness about the pandemic be spread in a timely and effective manner.
Earlier, the top court had on March 18 expressed concern over non-supply of mid-day meal to millions of children as schools were shut down due to the pandemic.
The top court had also taken suo motu cognisance of the condition of prisoners and ordered measures to prevent spread of COVID-19 in jails.
On March 23, a CJI-led Bench had directed states and union territories to constitute a high-powered committee to consider granting parole or interim bail to convicts and undertrials to prevent the spread of Corona virus in jails.
Prisoners convicted of or charged with offences attracting maximum jail term up to seven years can be considered for this exercise aimed at de-congesting jails, it had said.
It had stopped forthwith physical presence of under trials before courts and ordered that video conferencing must be resorted to for such purposes.
There are 1,339 prisons in this country, and approximately 4,66,084 inmates inhabit such prisons.
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