The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to expedite the process of constituting a full-time juvenile justice board in Mumbai and release the juveniles detained for minor offences with immediate effect.
A division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice BP Colabawalla was hearing a suo motu petition written to court highlighting the dilapidated condition of the observation home that has 339 children. The court had directed the 250 boys be shifted to David Sassoon Industrial School, Matunga, and the girls to Asha Sadan, Umerkhadi.
After an incident of sexual assault was brought to the notice of the court where a 10-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by a 16-year-old boy, the court had directed the state to build a concrete wall to separate the two age groups.
The state on Friday informed the court that as per the directions, 49 children have been shifted to the new building at Umerkhadi observation home and barricades to segregate children below 10 and those above have been created at the remand home at Matunga.
The state also said that the CCTV cameras installed at the home have been made functional. It added that 18 boys have been released on personal bonds.
The court said juveniles in conflict with law cannot be tried under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and they cannot be kept in the observation home for more than six months. It then directed the state to release the juveniles detained for minor offences immediately.
The court said the juvenile justice board in the city should be constituted at the earliest as one judicial officer is yet to be appointed. It also suggested that the board should hear matters full time and not twice a week. The matter is adjourned for four weeks.