Juveniles in jail sans trial

Juveniles in jail sans trial

5 languish in Nanjangud prison as officials fail to shift them to observation home

Juveniles in jail sans trial

There seems to be no progress on the instruction by the Juvenile Justice Board to transfer five juvenile undertrials in the sub-jail at Nanjangud in the district, to the Observation Home for juvenile offenders in the city, even after more than three months since it was issued.

The juveniles continue to be illegally detained.

Members of the Board visited the sub-jail on July 2 and found five juveniles imprisoned there. While two of them had birth certificates to prove their juvenility, the others did not. The Observation Home does not present an encouraging picture either.

Krishna (name changed) is lodged at the Observation Home for the past three months. Prior to that, he was illegally detained at the Central Prisons, Mysore for two-and-a-half years, before his juvenility was established. The delay in shifting him to the Home was questionable, as all undertrials have to appear before the magistrate every 14 days.

Moreover, any person who is imprisoned should be provided free legal aid, if the person does not have the capacity to hire a lawyer. For Krishna, who became an orphan days after his arrest in 2009, legal aid remained far-fetched.

Instances such as these, coupled with the delay by police in submitting charge sheets, have contributed to the delay in disposing of juvenile cases, says P P Baburaj, member of JJB.

According to the Juvenile Justice Act, juvenile cases should be disposed of within a maximum of six months.

Yet, the total number of cases kept pending between 2009 and 2013 is 105, according to documents with Deccan Herald. In 51 cases (almost 50 per cent), charge sheets are yet to be filed.

The Metagalli police are yet to file the charge sheet in Krishna’s case, registered in 2009, due to which he was illegally detained for two-and-a-half years. The special excise police station has not submitted a charge sheet for a case registered in 2010.

Even though some cases require more than six months to be disposed of, unwarranted delay can be reduced if the police file charge sheets immediately in juvenile cases, Baburaj said. The superintendent of the Nanjangud sub-jail was unavailable for comments, as he was away on leave.

However, sources in Nanjangud police said that of the five, one was not a juvenile, and the case was transferred to the court concerned. While documents regarding the juvenility of two others were furnished, they have not yet been transferred to Observation Home for juveniles.

Baburaj said that a letter was given to the sub-jail authorities after the July 2 inspection to produce them in front of the JJB. “However, nothing has been done,” he said.

M K Kumaraswamy, superintendent of the Observation Home, confirmed that they were yet to receive any information regarding the five suspected juveniles in the Nanjangud sub-jail.

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