1,200 cases pending in juvenile court; all-week hearings on

Amid the debate on reducing the age of juvenile delinquents to allow normal laws to govern the punishment of senior offenders among them, the Juvenile Justice Board in Pune district is struggling to clear 1,205 pending cases.

The pace of clearance is slow, with only 36 cases cleared from April 1, 2012 to January 2013.

"These cases are mainly of rape, murder and dacoity," said a member of the Juvenile Justice Board in Pune. He said cases came down from 5,500 in 2011 to 3,500 in 2012 and to 1,169 this year.

Board members said they are having an all-week hearing to dispose of cases. These being serious crimes, the cases are taking time. Incidentally, Maharashtra has the highest pendency of juvenile crime cases, nearly 16,000.

However, JJ Board are positive about reducing pendency with weeklong hearings in the next six months.

As far as reducing the age is concerned, the Juvenile Justice Board members are against it. They said if young delinquents spend time in jail, they would only turn hardened criminals.

"In observation homes, there is a chance of reformation of these youngsters. A study conducted for cases in Pune reveals that most juveniles facing charges in serious offences are merely accomplices," said a child welfare committee member.

With just two homes for juveniles in the district, this is another issue that needs to be addressed.

A recent PIL in the Bombay High Court says the Maharashtra Government has not effectively implemented the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.

The PIL states that JJ Act is not being properly implemented. It points out that there is a clear violation of section 9 of the JJ Act where the state is expected to provide special homes and lay down their standards.

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