NCPCR Formulates Draft Guidelines For Conducting Preliminary Assessment Under Section 15 Of Juvenile Justice Act
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has formulated draft guidelines for conducting the preliminary assessment under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 (assessment of child of 16 to 18 years of age for trial before children’s court or juvenile justice board in cases of heinous offences) which will help in making the system regarding the conduct of preliminary assessment uniform and conducive for children across the country.
The Commission has sought inputs and comments regarding the draft guidelines from the public on or before January 20, 2023.
Earlier, on July 13, 2022, the Supreme Court passed a judgment in the case of Barun Chandra Thakur v/s Master Bholu & Anr. Crl. Appeal No. 950/2022 while examining the proceedings arising out of the preliminary assessment made under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act), 2015. The Court indicated that the task of preliminary assessment under Section 15 of the JJ Act, 2015 is a delicate task with the requirement of expertise and has its own implications as regards the trial of the case.
The Central Government, NCPCR, and SCPCRs were directed by the Apex Court to consider formulating guidelines for the procedure to be adopted by the authorities while conducting the assessment under Section 15 of the JJ Act, 2015. In view of such directions, the NCPCR has framed guidelines describing the key procedures that will enable the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to conduct the preliminary assessment in consonance with the guiding principles and other provisions of the Act so as to not limit the experts by providing or suggesting any kind of specific assessment tool.
The aim of the preliminary assessment is not to seek confession from the child nor to reach a conclusion of any sort.
The final report prepared by the JJB to be submitted to the Children’s Court should include –
1. JJB’s decision on transfer of trail;
2. socio- demographic details of the child;
3. whether the child also qualifies as a child in need of care and protection;
4. details of the procedure followed by the JJB, psychologists and other experts (if any) including the psychological tests administered; and
5. reason for including or excluding the observations recorded in the SIR, SBR, witness report.
Also, the final report should not include any kind of statement or document that could be incriminating in nature.
The draft guidelines proposed by the NCPCR is divided into four chapters. The first is an introduction, followed by a chapter on the nature and purpose of the preliminary assessment. The third is on the role of the Juvenile Justice Board and other experts and the fourth on completion of preliminary assessment.