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Delhi HC orders to terminate 'petty offences' cases against minors pending for more than one year

ANI | Updated: Oct 01, 2021 21:52 IST

New Delhi [India], October 1 (ANI): The Delhi High court has ordered the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to terminate all inquiries, alleging petty offences against juveniles, which are pending and remains inconclusive for longer than one year, with immediate effect.
Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani, while pronouncing the order said, "In all cases alleging petty offences against children/juveniles, where the inquiry has been pending and remains inconclusive for longer than one year, regardless of whether the subject child/juvenile has been produced before the JJB, all such inquiries shall stand terminated with immediate effect."
The court said that a formal order closing all such matters shall be passed by the JJBs in each file within two weeks from the date of this order.
The court also made it clear that any children/juveniles detained in relation to such inquiries, shall be released immediately without waiting for recording the formal orders.
"In issuing this direction we take note of the fact that when a report/final report is filed alleging a petty offence, it is the State's own case, that the subject is a child or juvenile. We are passing these directions ex debito justitiae, to correct an error in the judicial dispensation, since we believe there is no justification in keeping such matters pending any longer, " the court said.

"In so far as cases against children/juveniles who are alleged to have committed petty offences, where inquiries are pending for between 6 months and one year, the State is directed to apprise this court of the number of such cases pending in each JJB in Delhi along with the date of institution of the inquiry and the date of the first production (if any) in each case, within 10 days from the date of this order, so that further necessary directions in that behalf may be passed by this court," the bench said.
The bench also made it clear that the termination of inquiries as per its directions under section 14 under the Juvenile Justice act would not in any manner deter the preparation and implementation of "requisite rehabilitation and social reintegration plans as contemplated inter-alia in chapters V, VI and VII of the JJ Act, which would be proceeded in accordance with the law."
The court listed the matter for further consideration on October 12.
In the course of proceedings in these matters, Senior advocates HS Phoolka, Amicus Curiae, and Prabhsahay Kaur, counsel appearing on behalf of Bachpan Bachao Andolan' and advocate RHA Sikander, counsel appearing for the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights ('DCPCR') have brought to the notice of the court several other issues which pertain to interpretation and effective implementation of some provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, ('JJ Act').
Overlong pendency of a sizeable number of cases relating to 'petty offences' committed by juvenile delinquents, which are in fact required to 'stand terminated' as per section 14 of the JJ Act was one among others issues raised in the matter.
DCPCR has brought to the attention of the court that as of June 30 2021 some 795 cases pertaining to petty offences committed by juveniles are pending before the six Juvenile Justice Board in Delhi for a period between six months and one year; and some 1108 such cases are pending for more than a year.
According to the DCPCR, some 1903 petty cases are pending which as per section 14 of the JJ Act should stand terminated. (ANI)