August 4, 2021
To: either/view subscribers
Good morning. The activities that the athletes do when an event is taking place have often caught the attention of the viewers. Remember when MS Dhoni took a power nap lying down on the ground or when Mithali Raj read a book before batting in a World Cup game? These events trended on social media immediately.
Next in line is Tom Daley. This Olympic Gold medal winner was seen knitting while watching the women’s springboard diving event in the Tokyo Games. And just like the others, he claims that knitting keeps him calm. So, what is your secret mantra to stay calm?
📰 FEATURE STORY
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021
We often say ‘Childhood is the golden period of our life’. It might be true for many of us, but several children experience a bad childhood. Such children need proper guidance and protection. Therefore, to protect children in need of care and to address children who are in conflict with the law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) 2015 was passed. FYI, a juvenile is someone who is below the age of 18 years.
This laid down rules for adoption and new provisions to regulate crimes committed by children and against children. As a betterment measure, the act has now been amended. While this 2021 amendment has made measures to give more protection and fasten the adoption process, critics explain that the new amendment raises several questions and diverts the power vested with the judiciary.
The Juvenile Justice Act was passed in 2015, replacing the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000. This act brought in several major provisions. Importantly, it allowed the trial of juveniles who are in the age group of 16-18 as adults, which could be determined by a Juvenile Justice Board.
The act was in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child. It further addressed crimes like illegal adoption, sale and procurement of children and others. One more feature of the act that was most talked about was the creation of a universally acceptable adoption law. Such provisions strengthened the Juvenile Justice procedures in India. Multiple boards including Child Welfare Committees (CWC), Juvenile Justice Boards and Special Juvenile Protection Units are working under this act.
The Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill was passed in Lok Sabha in March 2021. Following this, it was recently passed in Parliament. The amendment made a few changes to the 2015 Act. It re-defined the term ‘serious offences’ and made arrest warrants mandatory in certain cases. Another major change was the move to empower the District Magistrates (DM) to process adoption orders. It also provides them with additional functions such as supervising organisations that fall under the act. The amendments have received an equal share of appreciation and criticism. While supporters say these changes will provide more safety to the children, critics claim that these amendments are irrational.
Amendments to the JJ Act 2015 are needed
We will not talk about the benefits of the amendment just yet. We will first look at why the Union government thought there was a need to pass such an amendment. They have two significant reasons for passing the amendment. One, the number of adoption cases is increasing and there is a need to shift the burden. Two, there is a necessity to keep a check on the children’s shelter homes across the country.
Both of these grounds are reasoned based on data. An ‘India Today’ article states that a total of 48,842 applications for adoptions were filed in the past five years. This would increase the workload for the courts. The move to provide DMs with the authority to monitor and sign orders has been made therefore to reduce the burden on the civil courts. Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani asserted that the act will fasten the process of adoption. Thus, more orphans will be adopted faster and lead a better life.
A report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) revealed that more than 7,600 shelter homes in the country had lamentable living conditions. It also found that the Child Care Institutions (CCIs) that fall under CWC were not completely conforming to the provisions of the JJ Act. To put an end to this, the amendment has made stricter changes. For instance, no new children’s home (or CCIs) can be opened without the sanction of the DM and the shelter homes will be constantly monitored.
The amendment has also added new criteria based on which the CWC members will be selected to ensure more safety. The eligibility is based on the need to ensure safety. This criterion includes conditions like,
- An individual should not have any past record of violation of human rights or child rights and
- An individual should have not been involved in child abuse or employment of child labour.
After knowing the reason for the amendments, you would have figured out the benefits. So, these changes would now accelerate the adoption process. It will provide extra protection for the children. Besides all these, the additional CWC member eligibility criteria and the monitoring by DMs will ensure that the children grow in a safe and healthy environment. Also, before understanding why it is criticised, there is another key point you should know – the bill when passed in the Lok Sabha received support from both the ruling party and the opposition.
Amendments to the JJ Act are irrational
The critics and opposition highlight three major issues. The first one has very little to do with the amendments in itself. It is more because of the way the bill was passed. We have all been seeing the ruckus and drama happening in the Parliament recently. Amidst such problems, several bills have been passed in the Rajya Sabha without hearing the opinions and views of the opposition members. Unfortunately, this bill has been passed in a similar fashion. This means the suggestions and changes that could have made the bill stronger remained unheard.
Second, experts think the provision that changed ‘offences punishable with imprisonment between 3-7 years’ as non-cognizable (arrest is not allowed without a warrant) might become an obstacle in rescuing children. For instance, if a man employs child labour, then the man can not be arrested until an arrest warrant is obtained. So, the child can not be saved immediately. Notably, officials have to wait for the order of DMs, which if delayed is highly risky. An arrest without a warrant was allowed for the same category under the 2015 Act.
Third, the shift in power to the district magistrates has faced severe backlash, both from experts and opposition parties.
We will now find out why the shift in power is said to be wrong. This is basically because the power to sanction and decide was earlier vested with the civil court, a judicial body. However, the decision making authority is now shifted to district magistrates, who are administrators. While every country in the world has given this right to the ‘Judiciary’, the shift in power to the ‘Executive’ has been severely condemned by the experts.
Priyanka Chaturvedi, Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP, wrote in an editorial in India Today about a recent case on ‘Muzaffarpur Shelter Home’ in Bihar. It was found that around 34 girls were drugged and raped at this home. What’s more important here is that the court convicted 19 people, among whom was a former MLA. The district magistrate was also called for inquiry for ‘turning a blind eye to the ongoings at the shelter home’. Besides, with DMs in power, experts believe there could be more room for politics to play a role, which could have been avoided with ‘courts’ having the authority.
Well, you should also know that district magistrates already have a lot of responsibilities including maintenance of law and order, disaster management and general administration. Plus, they chair about 75 committees that are spread across 23 departments. So, critics question ‘what good does reducing the burden on courts by increasing the burden on DMs do?’ They also fear that the process may not take place at a quicker pace, instead, it may just add pressure on the DMs and assistant DMs.
On the other hand, if a faster pace is maintained, the process might sway away from the required ‘careful examination’ of the cases. Maharukh Adenwalla, a lawyer, wrote that this overburden might reduce the process to just hurried signing of documents, instead of reviewing with proper judicious caution. He worries that it will adversely affect the adoption process and the children.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
India Doesn’t Understand Afghan Society or Politics. We Must Stop Pretending Otherwise
For the Left:
Making a case for Indo-Abrahamic accord
🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
Growing green (Rajasthan) – Heard of the saying ‘Each one, plant one?’ The Rajasthan government is planning to follow this policy to revive their forests. A soon-to-come scheme called ‘Ghar Ghar Aushadhi’ will hand out medicinal plants to all the households in the state. With this scheme under discussion, names like Tulsi and Ashwagandha will shortly resonate in your houses. The Chief Minister said that it’s all for the future generation to learn about the importance of medicinal plants. In a way, it is also a step towards reversing the effects of global warming.
Blooming tech (Andhra Pradesh) – Today’s innovators are the most promising leaders of tomorrow. If they put their mind to it, they can solve any problem and that’s exactly what they did in Nellore. Owing to the pandemic, farmers were falling short of agricultural labourers. So acres and acres of land was under trouble as spraying fertilizers and pesticides became a hassle. But the engineering wing of an agricultural university offered to rent drones to the farmers at the rate of ₹325/acre. Now, the farmers are able to save both time and 30% of the pesticides. No doubt, technology smoothens the rough ends of our lives.
Fighting the odds (Jharkhand) – Most of us are caught by the popular craze for cricket, football and Formula One. But what about our national sport – hockey? Hockey does not always receive the spotlight. All of that is about to change now. Two villages in Jharkhand swam against the tide to rent a generator during heavy rains to watch the Olympic hockey match. They were proud that two girls from their villages – Salima Tete and Nikki Pradhan represented the Indian hockey team at the Tokyo Olympics. Such prayers and hardships bore fruit as Indian women’s hockey team marched into the Olympic semifinals for the first time, making history. Now, there’s no stopping hockey from gaining its audience base.
Decision revoked (Nagaland) – If all of our peers and authorities criticize our decision, the only solution we can do is to think through and change the decision. This is what the Nagaland government did following a Gauhati High Court stay. The government had earlier decided that the salaries of its employees who haven’t taken the first dose of vaccine or who fail to produce a negative test report will be stopped. This decision led to wide criticism and protest. Additionally, the HC put a stay on the order. Following this, the government has revoked its decision. The test results should now be produced by all unvaccinated employees every 15 days. Making it easier for the employees, the government has made vaccination tests free for them at government testing facilities.
Power Revenue (Goa) – A good scheme when implemented properly often reaps great results. This has become true in the case of the ‘One Time Settlement’ scheme that helped the Goa power department recover a revenue of Rs 221.32 crore. The scheme was launched to help power consumers in Goa. This aimed at maximising revenues by supporting consumers in clearing long pending dues. They could pay only the principal amount and the delayed payment charges were waived off based on the repayment period.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
76% – India-Bangladesh border covered by fence. Out of a total of 4096.7 kilometers, 3141 kilometers have been covered by fencing. The remaining areas, which are not feasible for fencing, will be covered by technological solutions.