Children Legal Aid & Protection (CLAP) is an essential initiative undertaken by our organization, which is committed to serving the needs of children in conflict with the law and those requiring care and protection. The primary focus of the program is to facilitate access to socio-legal aid, fundamental right to education, reintegration, and rehabilitation of such children in the society.
Children in conflict with the law are those who have been alleged to commit an act that is prohibited by law. These children are often vulnerable and face a multitude of challenges, including inadequate legal representation, stigma, and social exclusion. The CLAP program is designed to provide these children with access to socio-legal aid, which includes legal representation, counseling, and support services. This initiative is crucial in ensuring that these children receive fair and just treatment in the legal system and are not denied their fundamental rights.
The program also recognizes the importance of education in the lives of these children. Therefore, it aims to provide them with access to education and help them overcome barriers to education. The right to education is a fundamental right of every child, and the CLAP program ensures that this right is not denied to children in conflict with the law. Another important aspect of the CLAP program is reintegration and rehabilitation. Children in conflict with the law often face significant challenges in reintegrating into society. This initiative aims to provide them with the necessary support to reintegrate and lead a normal life. The program also provides rehabilitation services to children who have been victims of abuse or exploitation.
The CLAP program is an essential initiative undertaken by our organization to address the needs of children in conflict with the law and those requiring care and protection. It is a comprehensive program that provides access to socio-legal aid, education, reintegration, and rehabilitation services. The program is committed to ensuring that every child receives fair and just treatment in the legal system and is provided with the necessary support to lead a normal life.
An exploratory study conducted in collaboration with UNICEF & CNLU Patna aimed to shed light on the issue of Children in Conflict with Law (CICL) who were remanded in prisons as adults in Bihar, India. The study revealed that several children who were below 18 years of age were sent to jail by portraying them as adults, which is a gross violation of their rights. The practice of sending children to jails with adult inmates exposes them to a range of risks and dangers, including physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This situation is further exacerbated by the lack of basic amenities and services in the prisons.
The study highlights the urgent need for the government to take immediate action to address this issue and ensure that the rights of CICL are protected. The government must take steps to ensure that all children who come into contact with the law are treated in accordance with the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and other relevant laws.
The study also underscores the importance of raising awareness among stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, civil society organizations, and the general public, about the rights of CICL and the harmful consequences of sending them to jails with adult inmates.
In conclusion, the study conducted in collaboration with UNICEF & CNLU Patna has brought to light a concerning issue of children in conflict with the law being remanded in prisons as adults in Bihar. It is essential that immediate action is taken to protect the rights of these children and ensure that they are treated in accordance with the law. This requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including the government, civil society, and the general public.
Primary Information: The director of the organization Mr. Praveen Kumar met him in 2016 during his first prison visit. He was wearing a dark blue colored half pant and sky-blue half shirt, which is a school uniform usually in Bihar. He was loitering in the ground of the prison when his sight was caught holded by Praveen Kumar.
Dharam Raj Kumar, a boy who was in the sweet fourteen of his life where dreams of having a good life, earning a good money, enjoying the adulthood start to peep through the eyes. He belonged to an extremely backward class. He had three brothers and 5 sisters, his mother used to sell vegetables at Patna City Railway Station and he used to assist her mother every day.
Case Background: Somehow they were trying to cope-up with all their needs, but life shattered for them on 29.05.2016 when their youngest son Dharam Raj was sent to prison upon allegations of dacoity and consumption of drugs. When he was arrested in one case he was made accused in another case of dacoity too that occurred in the same area in the month of March where F.I.R was lodged against an unknown person. He had no direct relation in both the cases. The overall punishment in all these cases summed up to imprisonment of life. Surprisingly, all the accused in this case belonged to one caste i.e., Mahato belonging to OBC category.
Legal Recourse: Dharam grabbed attention of Mr. Praveen. In all the people his age was the factor that struck the eyes. He from nowhere appeared to be an adult who should be kept here in a place made for adult prisoners. After having a conversation with the little boy, a home visit was conducted to his place where his family and his elder brother told that he was not 20 years as stated by the police instead he is just 13 and half years old on the alleged day of occurrence. Mr. Praveen then inquired about documents such as birth certificate or school certificate to which the family looked clueless and also helpless. Somehow he gathered information of the last class he attended if any in any school, to which a positive response was received. Mr. Praveen reached to his school namely Middle School Mehandiganj from where he explained the principal everything about the situation and asked him to issue a certificate which could verify his age. The school issued the transfer certificate and his age was verified in the court of law after which he was declared juvenile in the month of September and his case was transferred in Juvenile Justice Board, Gaighat. In the JJ Board, an application was made for granting his bail. The Principal of the school was bought before the court and he testified that Dharam was a juvenile upon which he was granted bail.
Back to normal life: Dharam was the student of class VIII when he gets into custody because he was in the jail his name was struck off from school which resulted into discontinuation of his studies. We helped in getting his admission and now he is studying and living his normal and happy life with his parents and siblings.
Gap Analysis and Conclusion: This case not only highlights the issues our criminal justice system is filled with but also challenges people holding a very important place in the justice system. The case from tip to toe is filled with gaps: