Jabalpur: The Madhya Pradesh High Court has summoned the state's Principal Secretary of the Women and Child Welfare Department on March 24 to explain the action plan to do away with shortcomings plaguing juvenile justice boards functioning in different districts.
However, the court granted liberty to the Principal Secretary saying "if he has any other important commitments, he must depute some senior official capable of explaining the action plan of the MP government to the court".
Dissatisfied with the government counsel's reply on the issue yesterday, a division bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Ajit Singh, had expressed concern over functioning of the boards which lack infrastructure, including staff.
"Staff deployment to boards which have already been established is very unsatisfactory, if not appalling," the court observed, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Rekha Shridhar, co-ordinator of a Bhopal-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Hifazat, which works for children's rights.
"We hope that the Principal Secretary of the Women and Child Welfare Department would immediately address shortcomings in the respective boards, especially deficiency of staff deployed to the boards," the court said.
Under the Right To Information Act provisions, the petitioner had sought information on a number of cases pending before juvenile justice boards across the state.
The PIL sought directions from the court to district judges in the light of the Supreme Court directives issued in the Sheela Barse vs Union Government and others case (1986) as well as Sanat Kumar Sinha vs State of MP (1989) case for speedy trial of pending cases in MP's juvenile justice boards.
Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, enables a maximum period of sending juveniles to a special home for three years while many cases have been pending before MP's juvenile justice boards for more than five years, the petitioner's counsel Abhinav Jain said.
The petitioner's counsel said that initially when the petition was filed in 2013, the number of cases pending before MP's juvenile justice boards were Betul (342 cases), Jhabua (163 cases), Chattarpur (127 cases), Shahdol (464 cases), Narsinghpur (95 cases), Khandwa (74 cases), Gwalior (774 cases) and Seoni (101 cases).