Consensus on juvenile home safety: Delhi govt, police to HC

The city government and the police on Monday informed the Delhi High Court that they have arrived at a consensus on setting up of a special unit to tackle emergent and other safety and security issues in observation homes housing juveniles.

New Delhi: The city government and the police on Monday informed the Delhi High Court that they have arrived at a consensus on setting up of a special unit to tackle emergent and other safety and security issues in observation homes housing juveniles.

A bench headed by Justice S Ravindra Bhat was told by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Siddharth Luthra that there is concurrence between the departments involved and Delhi police and they have come up with a safety arrangement for three months.

After three months the arrangement would be reviewed and any gap would be rectified, Luthra said.

The ASG also said that under the latest policy, juvenile homes can contact the command room, headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, in case of emergent situations, while for other issues they can get in touch with the nodal officers who are Joint Commissioner-level officers.

After hearing the submissions of the ASG, the bench observed that in a riot-like situation in juvenile homes, the officials there should be able to call for forces immediately, just like normal people are able to dial 100 when they need police assistance.
It also observed "there is a volatility there (juvenile homes) and it has to be handled properly".

This prompted the ASG to submit that a juvenile home of a specific range need not call the command room, but rather can directly contact the nodal officer of that area in emergent situations where police force would be required.

Earlier on May 2, the high court had asked the city government and the police to iron out their differences and come out with a joint proposal on setting up of a special unit to tackle emergent and other safety and security issues in observation homes housing juveniles.

The Department of Women and Child Development of the city government had, in a status report, said it had requested Delhi Police to designate a Joint Commissioner-level officer as a nodal person to coordinate with it on issues relating to safety and security of observation homes.

The department had also said a separate cell was required
to be set up under the department and it should be headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and include 3-4 police officers.
Delhi Police, however, had not agreed with the department`s proposal and said "the demand of Social Welfare Department to create a separate police unit under the Department of Women and Child Development would not be able to serve the purpose as they would not be present round-the-clock in case of any emergency".

"It would be in the best interest for a speedy and immediate response to utilise the existing infrastructure available with Delhi Police at the Police Control Room which is headed by an ACP," the agency had said.

In February, after some juveniles escaped from an observation home here, the high court had directed the city government to immediately deploy DGR personnel at such probation homes.

The government, however, had told the court that this would take time as the modalities need to be worked out.

The government had earlier also told the court that a pilot project, meant to engage juveniles inside the observation homes, would be started and the "expression of interest" has been called for from interested parties.

The court had taken suo motu cognizance of news reports on December 16 last year that a group of delinquent minors had escaped from an observation home after an eight-hour rampage during which they indulged in rioting, vandalism and arson. Similar incidents had also taken place after the incident.

Castigating the authorities for their failure to control rioting in juvenile homes here, the court had directed the government and the police to ensure law and order and segregate the children involved in heinous crime in these shelters.

It had also asked the police to step up efforts to control the situation.

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