INDIA: The state of juvenile justice in Karnataka

Summary: The report documents the inadequate living conditions within the prisons, the inadequate provision of food, the physical and sexual abuse of inmates, and that some juvenile inmate have attempted suicide as a result of the above.

[NEW DELHI, 5 April 2012] - The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its report, “The State of Juvenile Justice in Karnataka” (attacged), states that the administration of juvenile justice remains
deplorable and children incarcerated in congested and appalling living conditions have been attempting suicide.

On 31 January 2012, three juveniles lodged in the Government Remand Home for Boys and Girls at Madivala attempted suicide inside the Home by consuming pesticide and needed hospitalisation.

Though Karnataka has established Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) in 28 out of 30 districts, the cases pending before the JJBs are not regularly heard in clear violation of Section 14(2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. As of 10 February 2012, there were about 2,500 cases pending under the Juvenile Justice Act in Karnataka and 1,567 cases were pending as of December 2011 in Bangalore Urban district alone.

Instead of increasing vigilance over the Observation Homes, Special Homes and Children’s Homes, which have become centres of abuse, the State government of Karnataka in October 2010 put the most regressive condition that “members of the Child Welfare Committees cannot visit child care
institutions, when they are not holding a sitting, without prior permission of the heads of these institutions”. 

In a number of juvenile justice homes, no inspection has taken place  during 2009-2011 according to information obtained under the Right to Information Act, 2005. No inspection took place in the Balakara Bal Mandir, Gulbarga; Children Home for Boys, Chikmagalur; Government Observation Home (Boys), Gulbarga; Government Observation Home, Dharward; Government Juvenile Home for Boys at Bagalkot; Government Juvenile Home for Girls at Bagalkot; and Balamandir for Boys, Belgaum during 2009 to 2011.

As admitted by Karnataka State government, as of December 2011 no educator was appointed in as many as 19 government runs homes out of 81 homes and the juveniles in these homes are being deprived of the right to education which is recognised as a fundamental right.

In five juvenile homes, no cook has been appointed despite being sanctioned. At Balakiyara Balamandira, Mandya, no cook has been appointed since 12 December 1996. 

A large majority of the Juvenile Homes were found to be under-staffed which has negative impact on care and protection of the inmates. At the Children’s Home for Boys, Koppal, out of eight sanctioned staff only two have been appointed. 

In clear violations of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice ("The Beijing Rules") and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Karnataka Rules, 2010 which provides for segregation of the inmates on the basis of their gender,  degree of offence and age (preferably up to 12 years, 12-16 years and 16 years and above) have not been complied with.  The non-separation of the inmates on the basis of their age undermines the danger to juveniles of "criminal contamination". At Children Home for Boys, Chikmagalur, boy and girls are being kept in the same home and no inspection took place in the Home during 2009-2011!

Asian Centre for Human Rights lamented that the role of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSCPCR) and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has been limited to ordering the release of those illegally
detained or recommending departmental action against the guilty. As recently as 20 December 2011, KSCPCR rescued a 16-year-old boy who was illegally detained without any diary entry, handcuffed, beaten, chained and inadequately fed during his detention at the Sampigehalli police station in Bangalore following his arrest on 17 December 2011.

“Though the boy was rescued, no complaint was lodged against the accused police personnel as per Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act which provides that “Whoever, having the actual charge of, or control over, a juvenile or the child, assaults, abandons, exposes or willfully neglects the juvenile or causes or procures him to be assaulted, abandoned, exposed or neglected in a manner likely to cause such juvenile or the child unnecessary mental or physical suffering shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or a fine, or both”. 

“Even a member of the Child Welfare Committee was found to abuse children. The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights failed to respond to queries from the Asian Centre for Human Rights as to the further action taken following the order of the State Government of
September 2010 restraining Balakrishna Masali, a member of the Child Welfare  Committee-II of the Bangalore Urban district, from  attending sittings of the Child Welfare Committee, after he was reportedly found guilty by the KSCPCR of molesting girls who were brought before him for inquiry.” - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights. 

Asian Centre for Human Rights urged the State Government of Karnataka to implement the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 in letter and spirit and further recommended to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to ensure the implementation of the recommendations made by ACHR. 


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