Unsettling to the core: Calcutta HC slams authorities over Suicide of A Juvenile in Custody

The Calcutta High Court on Friday made a stunning admission when it stated that the incident of a child in conflict with law (CCL), whose bail plea was pending before the High Court in connection with an NDPS Act, died by suicide, has ‘unsettled it to the core.’

While observing that CCL can’t be reduced to a mere static, the bench of Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya and Justice Sidhartha Roy stated that ‘judges, judicial officers prosecutors, defence counsel, law enforcement agencies and all this who set the wheels of justice in motion and keep it in moment should be jolted out of their complacency and let their conscience and compassion take over.’

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“Even a drop in the ocean may lead to a difference by building a wave of corrective action which one day will turn the tide toward what needs and should be done with immediacy and best intentions,” observed the bench.

The HC further observed that authorities cannot enjoy the power and privileges of our position without being sensitized to the loss of humanity and the anguish to the common man.

Calcutta High Court

The court sought individual report from the authorities associated (Special Court, NDPS, Cooch Behar, Public Prosecutor, Defence Counsel, Investigating Officer, Inspector In-charge and Superintendent, Korok Children Home for Boys) explaining their conduct and specifying their accountability in the matter.

“The records produced, which shall be elaborated upon later, show an indifferent and impersonal justice system which is a symbol of a system failure in the way in which people without money, position or clout are treated,” the bench added.

The case:

The Child Before Court, was identified as Labu Islam, who had moved the High Court seeking the bail. According to reports, the deceased was depressed due to the rejection of his bail in the NDPS Act by the court.

The Calcutta High Court noted the fact that case came up before the Juvenile Justice Board, Cooch Behar, which transferred the case to the District and Sessions Judge, NDPS Court, Cooch Behar (in September 2021) by opining that though the deceased was 17 years of age, he should be treated as an adult.

The bench also observed that the Juvenile Justice board did not make any preliminary assessment before making the decision to treat CCL as an adult.

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