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The Allahabad High Court recently directed the State Government to take steps to ensure that the Juvenile Justice Board in Uttar Pradesh is constituted and made functional expeditiously (Ishwari Prasad Tiwari v State of UP).
The Court further observed that in the future, the State Government should ensure that the vacancies are steps for filling the vacancies are taken at least six months prior to the date of the vacancy arising.
A Bench of Justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Pankaj Bhatia went on to add
The Bench emphasised that,
"Children are the backbone of the country and Article 15(3) also casts a mandate upon the State to take steps for special measures to protect the rights of the children.
In its October 12 order, the High Court noted that Section 4 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act provided for constitution of Board members for every District referred to as Juvenile Justice Board.
It added that the laudable objective of the Act could be served only when a functional Board existed in terms of the mandate of the Act for carrying out the powers conferred on the said Board.
The petitioner before the Court, however, informed the Court that the State had fallen behind on filling up these vacancies for years now.
After the enactment of 2015 Act, a notification was initially published in December 2016 and a Committee was constituted in all the Districts. However, their terms were fixed for a period of three years which expired in December 2019.
The petitioner submitted that in terms of 2016 model Rules, it was incumbent upon the Secretary of the Selection Committee to initiate the process of filling up vacancies within six months prior to the incumbent demitting the office.
Although the fresh Board ought to have been constituted prior to the expiry of the term of the Committee, the State Government issued a Government Order dated January 31, 2020 to the effect that till the fresh selections were made, the District Magistrate/any ADM/SDM nominated by the District Magistrate shall perform the work of the Selection Committee and the Chief Judicial Magistrate or any Judicial Magistrate nominated by the District Judge shall perform the work of the Juvenile Justice Board.
The Court was informed that the Lucknow Bench took notice of the said Government Order and observed that it was not in consonance with the provisions of the Act of 2015 and the Rules framed thereunder in Anoop Gupta Vs. Union of India.
The Lucknow Bench had thus directed through an order dated February 7, 2020 that the Selection Committee so constituted shall make its recommendation to the State Government by May 31, 2020. Thereafter, the State Government was to issue appointment letters within 10 days from the date of the recommendations.
A PIL was also filed in the High Court, which prompted the Court to issue written instructions to the Additional Chief Standing Counsel for constituting the Board by June, 2020. On these terms, the PIL had been disposed of on February 12, 2020.
However, despite these directions, the Juvenile Justice Board was yet to be constituted, the High Court was told. The petitioner claimed to be eligible to be considered for appointment on the Board.
While dealing with the petition, the High Court was informed that a Selection Committee under the Chairmanship of Justice Vinay Kumar Mathur has been constituted.
However, in view of the lock down in the country, steps could not be taken to constitute the Board within the time-frame issued by the Court earlier. All the same, the State informed that the selection process commenced earlier this month and that, in any event, the process of selection was to be completed on or before January 31, 2021.
The High Court, however, remarked that the instructions were silent as to why steps were not taken for fulfilling the vacancies prior to the occurrence of the vacancies.
All the same, since the matter was seized by the Lucknow Bench, it was directed that any further progress in this regard should be informed to that Bench. The instant petition was disposed of with a direction "that steps for constitution of the Board be taken expeditiously."
Read the Order here: