The Delhi High Court Tuesday ordered surprise checks of observation homes at regular intervals and issued guidelines for the safety of juveniles lodged in such homes after four incidents of rioting took place last year.
A division bench of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice R.V. Easwar said CCTVs shall be installed at all key points at the premises of observation homes.
Any prohibited article found during the search shall be seized by the officer-in-charge and a list of articles seized shall be prepared.
“In case of arms, weapons or addictive substances being found from a child or dormitory, the officer-in-charge shall conduct an inquiry to ascertain how the article entered the home and the people responsible for the neglect,” the bench said.
It asked the officer in charge to furnish his report to the department of women and child development.
The court further ordered that special precaution should be taken for the safe custody of juveniles with addiction or allied problems and they should be searched regularly and “if possible twice daily and occasionally at uncertain hours”.
Surprise searches of staff members should also be conducted by the officer-in-charge with the assistance of guards.
It also directed that the department of women and child development should take appropriate action against the people responsible.
The high court’s directions came in the case where it took suo motu cognizance of an incident when juveniles went on a rampage and the government failed to control the rioting.
Between August and December 2013, there were four incidents of rioting, fires and escapes at observation homes for juveniles run by the women and child development department.
The court also said that in case of riot or disturbance inside the homes, the shift incharge shall immediately take assistance of police with permission from the secretary.
Delhi government counsel Zubeda Begum informed the court that an advertisement to fill up 40 posts of welfare officers as against 74 vacancies has been published by the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB).
The bench directed the department to take up the matter with the DSSSB and ensure that the remaining posts and any other vacancies in the department are likewise published within four weeks and the process of recruitment completed expeditiously.
The court took suo motu cognizance of news reports which said that a group of minors created a ruckus and escaped from an observation home in Kingsway Camp area after eight hours of rioting, vandalism and arson Dec 16.
The juveniles snapped the power supply to the centre and some climbed up the terrace and escaped by jumping over the boundary wall.
The report said they set fire to a hall, bashed up the staff with iron rods and attacked them with knives. Most of the staff, fearing for their lives, fled the home and police had to be called in.