3,299 and rising, Haryana writes to HC for speedy trials of juveniles

Cases against juveniles "in conflict with the law" are piling up in Haryana. The state has now written to the registrar general of Punjab and Haryana High Court, requesting speedy trials as mandated under the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act-2000.

According to data compiled under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme by the Haryana government, 3,299 cases against juveniles were pending as on December 31, 2012. In two demi-official letters written in December 2012 and January this year, the state women and child development department has requested the high court to ensure that these cases are decided within four months as mandated under the Juvenile Justice Act. "Since this is not happening, cases linger on, resulting in high pendency," it stated.

Despite most of these juveniles being out on bail, two observation homes for boys in the state are filled beyond capacity, while the third has full occupancy. Currently, there are 44 undertrials at the observation home in Faridabad against a capacity of 25. While Ambala has 65 against a capacity of 50, Hisar is full to its capacity of 50. The observation home for girls in Karnal, meanwhile, has just three inmates against a capacity of 25.

To tackle the overflow, the department is opening a dedicated special home for juvenile convicts in Karnal, spread over four acres. The special home in Ambala currently has 17 juveniles convicted for murder, rape and other assault charges.

Equipped with LCDs, computers and a library - to which books are added every year - the observation homes also have art and yoga teachers, besides tutors for open schooling. Food includes fruits and puris while desserts are served twice a week. But to reform children in conflict with the law, the department contends they should also be engaged in supervised community work.

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