The Delhi police chief has issued a circular mandating age determination tests every time a child is rescued. The move follows a spike in cases of minor domestic helps being abused.
There have been reports of the police going ahead and declaring a victim to be a “major” (aged above 18 years), thereby helping the accused avoid a trial under the Juvenile Justice Act.
Last week, an 18-year-old domestic help was raped by the owner of a placement agency, but because the victim was a “major”, the police did not produce her before a juvenile justice board.
Taking suo motu cognizance of the matter, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) asked the police to explain why she was treated as a “major” and not produced before the board.
“We had discussed the matter with senior officers of the Delhi police earlier as well. But sometimes, the investigating officer tends to ignore guidelines. They should not declare someone as a ‘major’ without relevant proof,” a CWC official said.
In a meeting of the board on April 4, the issue of police officers producing children in adult courts was also raised. The committee questioned the police procedure of determining their age.
The committee said there was a need to sensitise junior officers. The circular issued by to all deputy commissoners of police says, “… usually the parents of the child are found illiterate, unable to give the exact age of their child. So it was suggested that ossification test should be conducted for determining the age of the child in conflict with law.”
The committee also observed that juvenile welfare officers are often found to be performing other duties as well.