Stressing the need for strengthening the juvenile justice system, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir on Sunday said the country could face chaos if it does not provide adequate protection and care to children, especially those in conflict with law.
Justice Altamas Kabir thanks President Pranab Mukherjee after swearing in as the new Chief Justice of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. UNI Photo
He voiced concern that despite 42% of population comprising children, who can be a force for potential progress in future, not much has been achieved for them and many face the problem of drug addiction.
"How many of us think about children as potential force for progress for future. More than one-third of population, large number of them children, do not have proper facilities despite best of our efforts and intention.
"This leads to number of problems and drug addiction is the worst problem there is. To address these, we have to strengthen the juvenile justice system," the CJI said at a Conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts.
He said juvenile justice system was the result of great deal of thinking by nations across the world and has to be implemented in letter and spirit.
The CJI said the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act deals with protection and care of children who are in conflict with law and are generally not from the elite society.
"We have children with good education, they are from elite class but what about the rest," he said, adding that 10 to 15 years down the line when the new generation will take over there might be chaos if these children were not taken care of.
"These are areas which we often need to sit and discuss," Kabir said while elaborating that there was a need for executive, judiciary and police administration to work together to effectively implement law. "This is what criminal justice system is all about," the CJI said and added that there was a need to bring reform in investigation and witness protection etc as there have been decline in the conviction rate.
"Number of conviction is coming down. All these we have to discuss... witness protection etc, we have to discuss," Kabir said.
The CJI said there was a need for strengthening the infrastructure of judiciary, particularly in the subordinate judiciary by increasing the number of courts and judges.
"Here in this conference we are focusing on the need for improving the infrastructure. There is a need for doubling the number of judicial officials in subordinate courts," he said adding that "infrastructure does not mean only making available the buildings but also support staff etc".
"This is all what we want to discuss. Start the dialogue which has been stalled," the CJI said referring to the last conference which was held in in 2009.