Covid-19: SC asks JJBs to consider releasing on bail children in Observation Homes

Covid-19: SC asks JJBs to consider releasing on bail children in Observation Homes

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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