Torture by officials and harsh conditions inside Delhi’s government-run juvenile homes are forcing teen offenders to run away from rehabilitation centers, a juvenile rights watch group has said.
According to Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), a Delhi-based human rights organisation, last year almost 300 such teen offenders managed to escape from these correctional homes. The Juvenile Justice Act (JJA), under which juvenile offenders are tried and kept in special homes, was meant to rehabilitate them. But the apathy of officials has apparently defeated the purpose. Currently, Delhi has 27 juvenile homes, housing over 3,000 teen offenders. Sumit Khurana, a senior lawyer, said: “Officers are overburdened, unskilled and often unable to handle teen lawbreakers. The teen offenders kept inside the shelter homes have been found complaining of torture.” “In the recent past, complaints of rape and drug addiction among teen offenders in the shelter homes have increased. Also, these homes do not seem to render psychological care, as prescribed in the JJA,” Khurana said.
“The juvenile home building at Magazine Road, which served as an ammunition warehouse during the British era, was also home last year to the released young offender involved in the gang rape and murder of Nirbhaya. It has almost no welfare officers,” a source told The Sunday Guardian.
“As per the law, there needs to be one officer for every 25 children. Most of the correctional shelters do not have welfare officers. Often, the rooms inside these houses are overcrowded,” a source added.