All children homes in India will have to be registered under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act even if they have a license under any other Indian law, the government has said. The Women and Child Development ministry had said the JJ Act will apply even to those child care institutions which do not keen children in need of care and protection.
"It is a legal requirement that all institutions housing children in need of care and protection need to be registered under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act," the ministry said, in an affidavit filed in the Delhi high court.
The court is hearing a petition filed by civil society group HAQ Centre for Child Rights seeking registration of a sister concern of Arya Orphanage under JJ Act. The orphanage had said that as the institution had a license under the Women and Children's Institutions (Licensing) Act, 1956 it did not required registration under JJ Act.
Overruling the contention and laying a clear policy framework for entire country, the ministry said that registration of institutions under Women and Children Institutions (Licensing) Act had no value as the said act stood repealed since the JJ Act came into being in 2006.
Many state government including Delhi and Madhya Pradesh have been issuing licenses to children institutions under the Women and Children Institutions (Licensing) Act.
"There is an urgent need to identify and register all Child Care Institutions in the state and to establish mechanism for monitoring the management of the homes through inspection committees and management committees as prescribed under the JJ Act and Rules," WCD minister Krishna Tirath said in a letter to all chief ministers.
The affidavit also said that the present JJ Act is the primary law in the country for care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of children in difficult circumstances, including children in conflict with law and those in need of care and protection.
The law defines a child in need of care and protection as the one who is found without any home or settled place or abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence. It means that services such as foster care, adoption and sponsorship provided to mainstream children into the society are covered under this definition.
The WCD ministry has also notified model rules to administer all child care institutions and urged the state governments to adopt these rules.