CHENNAI: The Department of Social Defense, Tamil Nadu came out with the draft of the Tamil Nadu Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Rules on July 27. However, some experts strongly feel that the rules are inadequate and need more detailing.
The rules drafted with the consultation of only a handful of NGOs reportedly are an extension of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2015 which was passed by Parliament last December.
While the Act legitimises the legal framework of juvenile justice, the rules laid out by the Department of Social Defense facilitate its implementation and checks feasibility.
Narayanan A, director of CHANGEindia, centre for advocacy and research, believes that all major players such as police, lawmakers, child rights experts and psychologists should contribute to enhancing these rules.
These rules once passed will remain in action for at least 10 years. Narayanan believes that the roles of the involved statutory bodies, or the bodies recognised by the government are not clearly defined in the rules. Having officers in the Police Department who are not trained to handle juveniles are sometimes transferred to this department. These officers who cannot offer proper counselling to juveniles are unproductive and the concept of rehabilitation will be destroyed.
Thilakavathy, IPS, suggested that, “Child care counsellors must assist the police at all times while handling juveniles.” This will not only impact the child’s psychology, but will also impact the police treatment of juveniles deeply.
According to an RTI filed by CHANGEindia, there are only three child psychologists working on juvenile justice in Tamil Nadu.
Assuming that each district needs at least one psychologist, our state alone will need 32 qualified field experts.
However, Ramesh MG, director of SOS Village in Tambaram, believes that both the Act and Rules are tightly wound around institutionalising juvenile care. He affirms that de-institutionalising and incorporating a family-like atmosphere would help rehabilitate children. Tall fenced walls would isolate children more from outside world.
Ramesh also proposed that promoting foster care and group foster care would help make the institutional set-up better. However, he added that there are loopholes in the rules associated with monitoring foster parents.