The Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Deepak Gupta took suo-moto cognisance in the matter of children in juvenile care homes. To protect the children from amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Apex Court has directed the Juvenile Justice Board and Children’s Court to consider interim release to children in juvenile care homes. The release is subject to the proviso of Section 12 of Juvenile Justice Act. The proviso provides that no child shall be released if it exposes him to a known criminal or to moral, physical or psychological danger or defeats the object of justice.
The court while giving directions, for interim release, to the Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards, Children’s Care Institutions and state governments, stated that “There are children who need care and attention and are kept in or children in conflict with law who are kept in various types of homes. There are also children who are kept in foster and kinship care. In these circumstances, it was felt that the interest of these children should be looked into.“
The court has directed all child-welfare institutions to consider whether keeping them in their respective institutions is in their best interests. Further, they are directed to counsel the families and ensure safe personal hygiene in the institutions. They are also required to protect the children from the anxiety and stress of the lockdown. The Bench has suggested the use of electronic media to conduct inquiries and hearings on the interim release.