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‘West Bengal lags in juvenile justice’

Bengal is lagging behind other states in implementing the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, judges of the Supreme Court and Calcutta High Court feel.

The judges said while inaugurating a workshop organised by the state legal services authority on the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act in Calcutta on Saturday that the state government should set up juvenile justice boards and launch “extensive awareness programmes” for effective implementation of the act.

Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Ashok Ganguly of the Supreme Court, Calcutta High Court Chief Justice J.N. Patel, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose of the high court and advocate-general Anindya Mitra were among those present at the programme.

Justice Kabir is executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority, while Justice Ghose is executive chairman of the West Bengal Legal Services Authority.

The judges said the rates of child trafficking, corporal punishment and child labour in Bengal were much higher than in other states.

Justice Kabir pointed out in his inaugural speech that non-government organisations would have to be more active in making the juvenile justice act a success.

He said he visited almost all states as executive chairman of the national-level authority.

“I am sorry to say the impact of the implementation of Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection of Children) Act is less in Bengal than in other states. The purpose of enacting the legislation is to bring abandoned and street children under one umbrella. For that purpose, the governments as well as NGOs would have to play a key role. These children should get food and a place to sleep at night,” Justice Kabir said.

He said he did not think money would be a problem in providing these facilities to abandoned or street children. “Many organisations across the world would come forward with financial help,” Justice Kabir said.

The chief justice of the high court, J.N. Patel, said that according to information provided by the state, 22,000 children, mostly girls, were victims of trafficking in the state.

Justice Ganguly requested advocate-general Anindya Mitra to ask the state government to take some special measures to stop child labour.

Justice Ghose hosted the workshop.




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