Bill to give fair deal to suffering juveniles introduced in RS

Even in cases of mental illnesses and drug addictions, if minors have to be sent to psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation centres, the new law will ensure that they are not dumped there and are nursed back to health.

The move to amend the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act follows a Delhi High Court direction to the government. The court has described the existing laws as discriminatory against these kids.

The important draft legislation was introduced by Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath amidst din raised both by the Opposition and the ruling parties over spectrum allocation scam and charges of favoritism in BJP-ruled Karnataka.

The bill seeks to prohibit authorities from sending children for separate treatment for diseases such as leprosy, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases. The change in the law will mandate the authorities to ensure proper treatment of mentally ill children in psychiatric hospitals and drug addicts in the rehabilitation centres.

Under the present dispensation, such children are removed to separate centres for treatment. It provides for isolation of such children "which appears discriminatory in nature" said the statement of objects and reasons of the amendment bill.

The bill said that even in the opinion of experts, segregation is no more necessary for the treatment of such children. The Delhi High Court had also held that there was "urgency and need for immediate steps to be taken both to remove/amend discriminatory legislations."

The court had held that it must be ensured that minor patients suffering from leprosy enjoy equal status as other citizens.

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