Bill to amend juvenile justice law introduced in Lok Sabha
On Monday, in Lok Sabha, a bill to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, that seeks to increase the role of district magistrate and additional magistrate was introduced.
Women and Child Development minister Smriti Irani rejected the points raised by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor who opposed the bill at the introduction stage.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 was later introduced by a voice vote.
The district magistrate in every district and the additional district magistrate will get the power to monitor functions of agencies responsible for the implementation of the Act.
Under the district magistrate, the district child protection unit will also function.
Background and educational qualification checks will be included before becoming the member of a child welfare committee.
The amendment to the bill intends to ‘empower district magistrates and additional district magistrates to authorise orders of adoption, propose that appeals on the orders of adoption may be referred to the divisional commissioner, and to strengthen child welfare committees by incorporating provisions relating to educational qualifications for the members and stipulating eligibility conditions for selection of the committee.’
The bill seeks to ‘categorise offences wherein the maximum sentence is more than seven years’ imprisonment but no minimum sentence or a minimum sentence of less than seven years has been provided as “serious offences” under the Juvenile Justice Act, and to remove difficulties in interpretation of the Act.’
“Serious offences” includes offences for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being is imprisonment between three and seven years.
To ensure effective coordination and effective response, the bill intends to ensure that the district magistrate is suitably placed.
The bill said, by further empowering district magistrates to deal with child protection and adoption processes, it aims to facilitate a coordinated and effective response of the administration to various issues pertaining to children.