Thursday, November 09, 2006

Court flays minor girls' detention

Madras High Court sets Juvenile Justice Board order
One of detenus has a 30-days-old child and lives with HIV/AIDS

CHENNAI : The Hindu Nov 7 Flaying a Juvenile Justice Board order detaining two minor girls for three years under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, the Madras High Court set aside the order on Monday saying the order showed non-application of mind. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice K. Chandru, was passing orders on a taken up writ petition, relating to the conditions of Government vigilance and shelter homes in Tamil Nadu.
The two girls, found guilty of "soliciting," were housed at the Government Vigilance Home in Mylapore, Chennai. Their plight came to light after a visit by S. Vimala, Director of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy. While one of the detenus has a six-month-old child, the other has a one-month-old child and was living with HIV/AIDS.Two service organisations — CHES and Manushya -- had informed the court that they would accommodate the victims and take all necessary steps for their treatment, reintegration and rehabilitation. The victims had expressed readiness to undergo rehabilitation training.

G.M. Akbar Ali, Member-Secretary of the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority, had filed a report in the court stating that there was no reason for the detention of the two juveniles, "who cannot be strictly treated as accused under any of the provisions of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act." The judges also asked Mr. Akbar Ali to take necessary steps to coordinate with the State Legal Service Authority of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra to ensure the repatriation of other inmates who expressed a desire to go home. The Bench also expressed concern at Ms. Vimala's finding that no steps had been taken by the authorities for the reintegration and rehabilitation of the victims, and that the victims were kept in continued detention "without any inquiry and without any basis." The judges said: "It is highly deplorable and heart-rending to note that many poverty-stricken children and girls in the prime of youth are taken to flesh market and forcibly pushed into the flesh trade, which is carried out in utter violation of all canons of morality, decency and dignity of humankind."

Referring to the alarming increase in human trafficking, the Bench said, "the right against exploitation is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India under Article 23. Trafficking in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited. Any contravention of this provision shall be punishable in accordance with law."
The Bench also asked the Member-Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority and the Director of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy to jointly inspect all vigilance homes/shelter homes/rescue homes in the State and submit a report in two months.
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