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SC glare on juvenile care

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over the alleged lack of seriousness of the states and Union territories in implementing the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and passed a slew of directions.

A bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta passed the directions on a PIL filed by Sampurna Behura, a social activist who brought to the court's notice the alleged failure of the authorities in implementing various provisions of the Act, including the establishment of child welfare committees, juvenile justice boards, special juvenile police units, appropriate homes for children in need of care and protection, and improving the living conditions of juveniles in conflict with the law and the facilities available to children in the custody of the State.

"...A large number of runaway children and children on drugs are found in railway stations (and other places) working as rag-pickers or performing other menial activities. It was submitted before us that even otherwise, there is rampant drug abuse among such children. Efforts must be made to establish de-addiction centres especially for such children and also generally for juveniles in conflict with the law and children in need of care and protection," Justice Lokur, writing the judgment, said.

The court made it clear that henceforth all child-care institutions run and managed by individuals and NGOs have to be registered in accordance with the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

"It might be uncomfortable for those who manage some of these child-care institutions, but registration is compulsory and in public interest to ensure that minimum standards of care are maintained and the children in those institutions are well looked after," the court said.

"We may note that occasionally there are allegations originating from child-care institutions of trafficking and child sexual abuse, some of which may be unverified, but to avoid any such shameful allegations it is necessary that their registration, their management and functioning are strictly monitored by the state governments and by the MWCD (the ministry of women and child welfare department)," the bench added.

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