NEW DELHI: The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on Tuesday formulated draft guidelines for Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) to conduct a preliminary assessment to adjudicate whether children aged 16 to 18 years accused of heinous offences be tried as adults.
The Supreme Court had directed the Central government, NCPCR and SCPCRs to consider issuing the guidelines or directions which may assist and facilitate the JJBs in making the preliminary assessment under section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
After that, DCPCR held a series of consultations with different stakeholders including the representatives of Delhi State Legal Service Authority (DSLSA), Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs), advocates, civil society organisations etc to formulate the draft guidelines for the issue.
Going by the guidelines, the Board may take the assistance of experienced psychologists, psycho-social workers, or other experts for such an assessment. For the purpose of this section, it clarified that preliminary assessment is not a trial, but an exercise to assess the capacity of such a child to commit and understand the consequences of the alleged offence.
“The aim of the preliminary assessment is limited. It is to assess whether the child aged 16 to 18 years has the mental and physical capacity to commit the alleged offence, ability to understand the consequences of the alleged offence and the circumstances in which the alleged offence was allegedly committed,” say the draft guidelines.
The JJBs are at liberty to engage psychologists, psycho-social workers or other experts for the assistance they wish to seek; however, the responsibility and the onus of the preliminary assessment lies with them.
“Considering the preliminary assessment is carried out in accordance with Section 15 of the JJ Act, all the general principles outlined in section 3 of the JJ Act shall also apply for this process. The Board shall in the first instance determine whether the child is of sixteen years of age or above; if not, it shall proceed as per provisions of section 14 of the Act,” the draft guidelines said.