Observing that judicial officers in the State need to be sensitized towards cases involving rights of children, a single judge of the Patna High Court has requested the Chief Justice Sanjay Karol to consider issuing directions to Bihar Judicial Academy for taking efforts in sensitizing judicial officers as to how to deal with such cases.
A single judge bench comprising of Justice Rajeev Ranjan Prasad observed thus:
"This Court understands that the judicial officers are required to be sensitive towards the rights of the child and need to take care of them on the principles of parens patriae. The principle is well founded under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2018."
In view of this, the Court ordered:
"Since this Court has found that the judicial officers are required to be sensitized on the subject, this Court would request Hon'ble the Chief Justice of this Court as Patron of the Bihar Judicial Academy to consider issuing appropriate directions to the Director, Bihar Judicial Academy to hold classes on the subject and take efforts to sensitize the judicial officers of the State as to how to deal with such cases in accordance with law."
The development came in a plea filed by a victim girl claiming that she had attained majority, however, was kept in a Remand Home in Patna since 20th March last year.
An FIR was lodged by victim's father alleging that she was seen being taken away by a boy on a motorcycle. It was also alleged that when the father sent his maternal brother to the boy's house in order to get back the victim girl, boy's father had told that the girl would not be sent back.
In view of this, the victim girl was recovered by the Police and was brought before the Judicial Magistrate for recording of her statement under sec. 164 CrPC.
In the statement, it was stated by the victim that she left her house on her own will as her parents wanted her to get married with someone else. The girl also expressed her desire to go to her maternal grandmother's house.
The judicial magistrate had sent the girl to the observation home vide order dated 20th March 2020.
Pursuing the aforesaid order, the Court observed thus:
"On perusal of the order dated 20.03.2020, this Court finds that in the Court of learned Magistrate the victim girl claimed that she was 18 years old, but the learned Magistrate assessed her age as 17 years. Without considering the request of the victim girl to allow her to live with her maternal grandmother, the learned Magistrate sent her to the Observation Home. Since then she is there."
It was the case of the petitioner that the judicial magistrate should have been more sensitive towards the rights of the victim girl. It was also submitted that the judge did not call for the girl's school certificate to assess her age despite the disclosure of the girl telling the judge that she was a class XII student.
"She disclosed her age as 18 years but the learned Magistrate assessed her age as 17 years without there being any basis for the same." The Court observed at the outset.
Observing that the judge should have acted with "more circumspection and care" while passing the order, the Court observed that judicial officers are required to be sensitive towards the rights of the child and need to take care of them on the principles of parens patriae.
"The learned judicial officers are required to be sensitized on this issue otherwise similar examples will kept on coming before this Court. The need to keep a child in the Observation Home or to allow him/her to stay with her parents/guardians is one of the most essential consideration which is required to be given by the learned Magistrates when they find that a minor girl or victim of a crime is produced before them. There cannot be a remand of a victim girl to an Observation Home in a routine manner."
Furthermore, it said:
"All possibilities are required to be explored keeping the best interest of the child in the mind, to facilitate her stay either with her own family or with a trusted guardian where her security would also be intact. It is only when there is no possibility of keeping the victim girl with her family or with a guardian, she would be required to be sent to an Observation Home."
Observing that the petitioner was a major and entitled to set free, the Court set aside the order passed by the judicial magistrate and directed release of the victim girl from the Observation Home. The Court also said that it will be open for the girl to choose her place of residence.
"It will be equally open to respondent no. 6, who is father of the petitioner, to persuade her to live with the family but the respondent no. 6 shall not indulge in applying any force and would not adopt any extra-judicial method to pressurize this petitioner in any manner whatsoever." The Court said further.
Title: Khushi Kumari v. State of Bihar through the Principal Secretary Home (Police) Patna