The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to Director General of Tihar prisons and the Delhi government over incarceration of 136 juvenile prisoners in jails.
As per the Juvenile Justice Act, a minor is kept under custody at an observation home and not a jail meant for adults.
The NHRC response came over a petition that demanded immediate shifting of the minor prisoners to an observation home as well as adequate compensation to them for time spent in jails. The rights panel has sought the response of the authorities in four weeks. The matter is also being heard by the Delhi High Court.
The NHRC order comes two weeks after the Delhi police told the Delhi High Court that it has ordered an inquiry against policemen responsible for a large number of juveniles being lodged in Tihar jail.
The police told the court on May 8 that the special cell (women and children) had forwarded a list of 136 minors, who have been lodged in jails, to Deputy Commissioners of Police of 11 districts. The cell also urged the DCPs to initiate an inquiry against the policemen responsible for lodging minors in jails.
The list of minor prisoners in Tihar and Rohini jail was provided to the police by the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) after a survey in 2012 in which it assessed the right age of 1,300 suspected minor prisoners in the two jails.
Child rights activist Anil Asthana had filed a PIL before the court, claiming that many juveniles end up in jail due to the "casual attitude" of the police.
The police affidavit came after DLSA Member Secretary Brijesh Sethi informed the court that the Delhi police had not complied with the court order of May 11, 2012 in this regard.
"Delhi Police is supposed to file an age memo with the file, when producing an accused before a magistrate. But, in a number of cases it has been seen that the file does not contain the age memo," Sethi told the court.