Too excited to take the credit for arrest, the district police not only revealed the identity of three juvenile suspects but also named one a drug peddler in a press release.
The police action of revealing the names violated the Juvenile Justice Act. The police also put accusatory words and other derogatory remarks for the apprehended juveniles in the first-information report, a copy of which was issued to the print media on Monday.
In the release, the police claimed to have caught a juvenile on August 24 and seized 1-kg opium from him. Before mentioning his name, the release condemns the boy as "drug peddler". Caught in Sardulgarh, the class-10 student from Haryana told the police he had been lured into drug peddling, states the handout.
The juvenile had bought a motorbike a month ago and needed money to repay the loan, claim the police. They arrested another two juveniles on August 15 on the charge of peddling drugs. Giving their names, the police claimed to have seized 0.5-kg opium from them. The police claimed the suspects' age to be over 18, and one of them to be a student of BA-2 course, who had been lured into drug peddling by his brother, the co-suspect.
"The names of juveniles under inquiry can be written in the FIR but could not published in any media or press release," Mansa lawyer Suraj Chabbra, member of the juvenile justice board, has confirmed. "The police cannot even mention the juvenile as 'accused'. Generally, they produce juveniles in other courts, while the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 requires them to bring the suspects to the juvenile justice board within 24 hours."
Senior superintendent of police Narinder Bhargav stated in the press release that on August 19, the Sardulgarh police had arrested two Sunam youngsters in their late teenage and seized 1-kg opium from them. He named both.
"These youngsters joined drug peddling for the sake of quick and easy money and lavish lifestyle," the release states. "They smuggled opium regularly from Rajasthan and Haryana to Punjab, including Mansa."
What the law states
Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000:
Prohibition of publication of name etc. of juveniles involved in any proceeding under the Act:-
(1) No report in any newspaper, magazine, news- sheet or visual media of any inquiry regarding a juvenile in conflict with law under this Act shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile; nor shall any picture of any such juvenile be published: provided that for reasons to be recorded in writing, the authority holding the inquiry may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion, such disclosure is in the interest of the juvenile.
(2) Any person contravening the provisions of sub- section (1) shall be punishable with fine, which may extend to Rs 25,000.