//India to strengthen child protection, human rights laws

India to strengthen child protection, human rights laws

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) The central cabinet Thursday approved amendments to two bills on juvenile justice and protection of human rights to widen their scope and ensure better implementation.

"In the case of the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2005, the cabinet has taken on board all suggestions made by the parliamentary standing committee," Minister of Information and Broadcasting P.R. Dasmunsi told reporters after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The move would ensure proper functioning of the national and state human rights commissions through changes in the criteria for selection of its heads.

Further widening the scope of the national human rights commission, the amendment would allow it to take up cases referred in courts in addition to the present system of making inquiries suo motu or on the petition of the victim or on behalf of the victim.

The amendments in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2005, approved by the cabinet, seek to provide better care for children in custody by ensuring that they are not kept in a jail or lock-up along with any adult.

They also seek to treat child beggars as vulnerable children requiring special focus.

Expressing hope that both the bills would be cleared by parliament during the monsoon session, Dasmunsi said they would help ensure better protection of the human rights and dispensation of justice.

The parliamentary standing committee has stated that the number of juvenile justice boards and child welfare committees constituted so far is inadequate to cater to those juveniles in conflict with law and in need of care and protection.

It has sought a definite timeframe for the states to constitute such boards.

An important component of the amendment is that it would raise the penalty for violation of the clause prohibiting publication of the name and other identifying details of the juvenile facing criminal charges from Rs.1,000 to Rs.25,000.

The penalty fund is to be used for the welfare of the child under supervision, the new amended draft legislation states.