Resource Cell for Juvenile Justice
Resource Cell for Juvenile Justice (RCJJ) is a Field Action Project under the Centre for Criminology and Justice of TISS. It was set up with the objective of working on the issue of Children in Conflict With Law (CICL) in an affirmative manner, adopting a rights-based approach. Mental Health plays a very important role for a child in conflict with law. Children commit very heinous offence either because of a series of built up emotions which have not found a positive outlet—leading to trauma. Institutionalised children deal with several issues like violence, uncertainty of the future, temporary separation from family, change in food, clothing, living space etc. Their life changes overnight. All these are extremely emotionally and mentally taxing for any individual in the system.
In 2008, Centre for Criminology and Justice TISS conducted a research study on the ‘Status of the Juvenile Delivery System for Juveniles in Conflict with law in Maharashtra’. Given the impact of the research study in Maharashtra — Delhi and Tamil Nadu commissioned similar research studies. Research results enabled RCJJ to set up ‘help desks’ to assist numerous children that were languishing in Observation Homes on account of their (and their parent’s) inability to navigate effectively through the Juvenile Justice system. The study indicated the server impact on the Juvinile Justice system on the mental health of these children and their families. RCJJ’s Help Desks enabled parents and their children to interact, referred cases of addition or serious health concerns, and coordinated with the police and other courts for faster disposal of cases.
Given that a decade has passed since this intervention was introduced, RCJJ is conducting another qualitative research study to understand the impact made, highlight existing gaps in Justice Delivery system for CICLs and advocate for better provisions within the Juvenile Justice system. There is little known about the kind of offences children get caught in, the time period taken to process the cases, the kind /nature of rehabilitative orders passed, assistance provided with respect to legal aid or any other. RCJJ’s research study will facilitate a better understanding of the trends and profile of children committing offences in Maharashtra, identify gaps in processing cases, develop a knowledge base to initiate procedure-related policy changes and document best practices/case studies for future reference and training purposes.