Follow due process to ascertain age of juvenile offenders: NHRC
The Commission issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of all states and Administrators of Union Territories asking them to inform, within four weeks, whether due process of law, as laid down in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, was followed to ascertain the age of juveniles in conflict with law, lodged whether in regular jails or Juvenile Homes, an NHRC statement released on Friday said.
The notices were issued as the commission took cognisance of the issue after Dr Yogesh Dubey, Member, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights told it that during his visit to the Agra District Jail, 38 juvenile inmates claimed that they were below the age of 18 years on the date of offence for which they were accused.
Many juvenile are languishing in the prisons
Seeking the NHRC's intervention in the matter, he also said that several juvenile were languishing in Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jaipur, Moradabad, Dhanbad and Lucknow prisons.
The Commission, in its notice, has observed that the right to determine the age of a juvenile, implicated in a criminal case, is ensured by the Constitution. The Commission has also observed that the Magistrate concerned, also cannot act on the determination of the age by the Investigating Officer alone and send such juvenile or a child in conflict with law to a regular prison instead of a Juvenile Home.
If the determination of age by the Investigating Officer is accepted as final, it would amount to serious violation of human rights of a child.