A division bench of the Peshawar High Court has sought a reply from the provincial government officials in response to public interest litigation urging the court to get Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018 implemented in its true letter and spirit.
Advocates Sharafat A Chaudhry and Umer Sajjad Chaven filed the petition on behalf of child rights activities Imran Takkar Thursday making chief secretary of the province, secretary parliamentary affairs and human rights, secretary home and tribal affair department and secretary social welfare as respondents.
Appearing before the division bench, comprising Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Ijaz Anwar Advocate Sharafat Ali Chaudhry contended that even after laps of the 3 years of enactment of Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018, the law is not fully enforced in its true letter and spirit.
Advocate Sharafat, who has also drafted the JJSA, argued that the structure required to implement that law is still. Neither Juvenile Justice Committees were notified nor Juvenile Rehabilitation Centres and Observation Homes have been established. Sharafat further argued that the arrested juveniles are kept in police stations or investigation and in jails for confinement which is against the law and sheer violation of the fundamental rights of the juvenile accused persons.
The counsel for petitioner further argued that neither Juvenile Justice System Committee has been notified nor Juvenile Justice Rehabilitation centers and observation homes are established, moreover, the provincial government remained unable to notify the rules under Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018.
Sharafat argued that the implementation of the law is a matter of public importance since it is directly linked with fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, which envisages that the people of Pakistan be governed by the law.
Talking to TLTP, Sharafat told the Parliament was conscious of the fact that Juveniles in custody of police or imprisonment in jail often become subject to cruelty, abuse or torture. Their rehabilitation remains in question and when they come out of police lockup or jail, instead of becoming reformed citizens, while remaining in association with adult criminals, they often become habitual offenders. Hence, the Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018 was enacted for reformation, rehabilitation, and social re-integration of the juvenile accused.
The writ petition quotes a child who was a grade 7 student, in police custody at West Cantonment Police Station, Peshawar. Police claimed that the child Shahzeb committed suicide in the lock-up. The dead body of the child in police custody begs to answer whether the police was authorized to keep a juvenile accused in police lockup. During the last few years, there have been multiple reports of deaths while the accused were in police custody.
The bench after hearing the arguments for the petitioner’s counsel, directed the respondents to submit report regarding the implementation of the JJSA.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at email@example.com