The Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch (TNCRW) has written to Chief Minister M K Stalin seeking justice for the custodial death of a 17-year-old boy in a Juvenile Home, Chengalpattu. Such incidents are shocking and show what the actual reality is in the State’s correctional settings, the letter said.
TNCRW welcomed the move to arrest six personnel in connection with the incident but also has recommended the actions that need to be taken to incorporate reforms in the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Observation Homes- OH and Special Homes- SH) to protect children, the letter stated.
The deceased, Gokul Sri, was a resident of Tambaram. He was taken into custody by Tambaram railway police after he allegedly stole a battery belonging to the railway department on December 29. Since he was a minor, he was lodged in a juvenile correction facility on December 30.
On December 31, he developed health complications and was taken to the Chengalpattu government hospital, where he died. Following Sri’s death, his mother Nirmala submitted a petition to the district collector requesting a probe into the mystery behind her son’s death. Nirmala alleged that her son was tortured before death.
From investigating the roles of officials in various capacities and personnel from the home to fast tracking criminal proceedings against those involved, the letter had made many recommendations. Also, a Special Investigation Team should be formed for this case and also look at the gaps in the delivery of juvenile justice. “The case must be entrusted for a court monitored investigation under the supervision of the Principal District Judge. A special Committee with the participation of the legal fraternity, social workers and representatives of child rights organizations should be formed to support the investigation,” the letter said.
A committee should be formed to inspect the status of Observation Homes and Special Homes in the State. There must also be good rehabilitation facilities, counselling and treatment, the letter said.
People’s Watch, a human rights NGO based in Madurai, has urged the Chengalpattu district collector to directly inquire into the mysterious death of a 17-year-old juvenile at a juvenile correction facility.
Spreaking to reporters on Wednesday, Henri Tiphagne, executive director of People’s Watch enlisted a set of demands to be followed in the probe which includes action against the district child protection officer for intimidating Sri’s mother, direct intervention of the district collector in probing the death, action against the warden, deputy warden, head constable of the juvenile correction facility and requested the chief minister to setup a committee to reform juvenile homes.