Manipur High Court has stated that the state government is not allowed to lapse the allocated Juvenile Justice funds of 2022-23 or divert it to any other head of expenditure, without being utilised for the purposes intended.
The Manipur High Court, on its own motion, took up the matter to implement the Juvenile Justice Act provision properly in the state.
While hearing the matter, the amicus curiae pointed out the 2018 Supreme Court judgment in the Sampurna Behura case, that the state of Manipur is statutorily bound to constitute a Juvenile Justice Fund, but even as on date, no steps have been taken.
The HC directed the social welfare department to submit details of budgetary allocations made to the Juvenile Justice Fund.
While submitting the details, the first affidavit disclosed only expenditure incurred towards medical treatment and some other issues pertaining to children. However, the HC gave time to submit further details that section 105 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2000, read with Rules 29 to 34 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children, Model Rules, 2016, indicate the infrastructure that is to be maintained for the welfare and rehabilitation of children covered by the statute.
Amicus curiae of the case submitted that further affidavit submitted from the department stated that Rs 10 lakh has been allocated for the financial year 2022-2023 to meet the requirements of Rules 29-34 of the Juvenile Justice Model Rules, 2016, but no details are forthcoming as to how this amount would be spent to satisfy the prescriptions of these Rules.
He further pointed out that though reference has been made to the state’s share of 10% in the Maintenance Recurring Grant-in-Aid and the figures furnished would total up to Rs 1,43,14,848/-, the abstract of the revised budget estimates made for 2022-23 reflects that only a sum of Rs 43 lakh has been allocated for the financial year 2022-23 against the sub-heading: ‘Grant-in-Aid’.
The HC stated that the state government should indicate in clear terms as to how it plans to spend the allocated amount of Rs 10 lakh against each of the requirements under Rules 29-38, that is, physical infrastructure; clothing, building, toiletries and other articles; sanitation and hygiene; daily routine; nutrition and diet scale; medical care; mental health; education; vocational training; and recreational facilities.
It also noted that the financial year is almost at an end and some days are left for utilization of the allocated amount which has been allocated for the financial year 2022-2023.
“It shall not be open to the state government to allow these funds to lapse or be diverted to any other head of expenditure, without being utilized for the purposes intended”, stated the HC.
Further, directed to file the affidavit that addresses the issue as to why no provision has been made in the budget estimate for the requisite amount of funds to maintain the Grant in Aid, amounting to Rs 1,43,14848.
The public interest litigation case will not be closed and would be kept pending to monitor the performance of the state government in terms of the requirements of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Rules framed, the HC added.