Police Insensitivity to Juvenile Offenders is Showing: Activists - The New Indian Express

Police Insensitivity to Juvenile Offenders is Showing: Activists

Published: 08th January 2014 07:24 AM

Last Updated: 08th January 2014 07:24 AM

Appalled at the “accidental” shooting of a 14-year-old theft accused in custody on Tuesday, activists said it was a clear case of violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, which prohibits offenders from being taken to police stations for inquiry. Neelankarai crime wing inspector R Pushparaj, who was probing recent hundial thefts, was interrogating the juvenile at the Neelankarai police station when he allegedly accidentally shot him. The boy was accused of three such petty thefts about six months ago.

Hailing from an economically backward family, the boy was a school dropout who lived in a single-room house at Neelankarai. After his father died of heart problems three years ago, his mother was earning for the family by washing dishes in a local restaurant.

“The incident shows that the top brass of the police are not sensitive to juvenile offenders. Our State police have not designated Juvenile Welfare Officer in each police station to handle juveniles. The police officer responsible must be prosecuted on charges of attempted murder. That alone will serve as deterrence,” said activist A Narayanan.

Activists also criticised the police for investigating a juvenile at gun-point over a petty theft. The incident comes hardly a month after Chief Minister expressed concern over custodial deaths, calling them a “travesty of justice”.

As per the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, juvenile offenders have to be treated differently as compared to criminals. The police officer handling a juvenile in conflict with law must give the juvenile the impression of a sincere friend trying to reform him rather than as an officer imposing punishment on him. The Act also states that the delinquent juvenile shall be handed over to the Juvenile Welfare Officer as early as possible.

In the case of Sampurna Behrua vs Union Of India & Ors, the Supreme Court on October 12, 2011 had directed that at least one police officer in every police station with aptitude be given appropriate training and be designated as Juvenile or Child Welfare Officer, who will handle the juvenile in coordination with the police as provided under sub-section (2) of Section 63 of the Act. 

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