Guwahati, Sept. 23: Assam police has raised 30 special juvenile police units to handle cases relating to juveniles and protection of children in the state.
This was stated in an affidavit submitted today by superintendent of police, CID, Violet Baruah in Gauhati High Court in connection with a PIL seeking steps to ensure protection of children in the state.
Baruah informed the court that the units, comprising a superintendent of police and two social workers, had been set up in each police district. They will co-ordinate with and provide support to police personnel dealing with juvenile crimes and child abuse cases.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, requires constitution of the special units in every district and city but the state government’s delay in implementing the same had invited criticism from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and many NGOs.
The basic purpose of these units is to enable the police to deal with child victims of crimes or juveniles in conflict with law in an appropriate and humane manner as mandated by the juvenile justice system.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO working for children across the country, had filed the PIL in the high court in May, questioning the Assam government’s steps to tackle issues like child trafficking, child labour and sexual offences against children. It had complained about violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 21, 21A, 23 and 24 of the Constitution, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, among others.
A division bench of the high court on May 22 had asked the state government and the related departments as well as the police to submit affidavits in reply to the complaints raised in the PIL.
The state police and social welfare department submitted their affidavits today outlining the steps taken to ensure protection of children and their rights.
“In every police station, one officer with aptitude and appropriate training and orientation has been designated as a juvenile and child welfare officer who is also a member of the special unit. Each district superintendent of police is the chairperson of the unit concerned. The role of these units is to co-ordinate and function as a watchdog for providing legal protection against all kinds of cruelty, abuse, exploitation and take serious cognisance of adult perpetrators of crime against children,” the affidavit stated.
It said similar units had been set up in river and railway police stations. Altogether 152 police personnel, including officers from the rank of sub-inspector to additional superintendent of police, had been sensitised on juveniles and child protection issues.
The NGO’s lawyer, Ravi Sagar, told The Telegraph that the high court had fixed December 6 as the date of next hearing of the PIL.