India’s legal framework gives special treatment and protection to children below the age of 18 who are in conflict with the law or who commit crimes. Every district has one special juvenile police unit (SJPU) and regular police stations have a Child Welfare Protection Officer (CWPO). Usually, the SJPU has the power of arresting juveniles. In case, A normal police arrests the child, the child shall be immediately placed under the protection of the SJPU or the CWPO.1 The child shall continue to remain under the protection of CWPO, who shall be responsible for the child just as a parent/guardian, before the child is brought to the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) within 24 hours of his/her arrest. In case, the child cannot be produced before the Board due to the child being arrested during odd hours or distance, the child shall be kept by the CWPO in the Observation Home or in a fit facility.
After the arrest is made, the following guidelines are to be followed by the officers to ensure the welfare of Juveniles.
- No FIR shall be registered except in cases of heinous offences or where a crime is alleged to have been committed jointly with adults. In all other cases, the alleged offence shall be recorded in the officer’s daily diary.
- The arresting officer shall be in plain clothes and not in uniform while arresting the child.
- The officer arresting the child shall not place him or her in handcuffs, chain or use force on the child.
- The child shall be informed about the reason for the child’s arrest.
- The child shall not be placed in a police lock-up or lodged in the jail.
- The child shall not be asked to sign any statement.
- The CWPO or the SPJU shall inform the parent or guardian of such child about the child’s arrest and provide them with the address of the JJB before which the child is to be produced and direct them to be present before the JJB.
- A child shall not be forced to confess and shall be interviewed only at the SJPU or at a child friendly premises or a child friendly corner in the police station which does not give the feel of a police station.
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