Six year ago, when he ended up in the special home for juveniles in conflict with law at Saidabad, R. Shekhar (name changed) from Kukatpally was accused of a brutal murder. He was just turning 17 when he was brought to the home and put under observation. Four years in the special home as an inmate and as an employee changed him. Shekhar has now come out of his dark past and is pursuing LLB from a prestigious law college in Hyderabad.
Last year, Shekhar earned a B.Com degree from Ambedkar Open University and cracked the Telangana State LAWCET. Now he has one mission in life – become a lawyer and help the downtrodden to get justice.
“I had confessed my crime before the magistrate. But I had also pleaded that I should be allowed to continue my studies. After I was brought to the special home, with a special permission from the magistrate, I joined B.Com and earned the degree,"said Shekhar.
The magistrate sentenced him to 30 months in the home after he was proven guilty. During his stay, he crossed the age of 18, but had to stay back as per the rule. He took up small jobs in the home and started earning some money. “When a construction work was going on the premises, I joined the team of workers. Later, they gave me an opportunity to work as supervisor in the same home on outsourced basis," said Shekhar, who continued to work in the home till he got out last year. Behind the success of Shekhar was relentless support and encouragement from the officials of the Juvenile Welfare and Correctional Services Department. “All of them, especially the then director L. Kismat Kumar, encouraged me and helped me a lot," said Shekhar.
After his release, unlike the other ex-convicts coming out, who are adults, Shekhar does not have to worry about being disqualified in future jobs or studies due to his criminal history. Because as per the Juvenile Justice Act, no authority can deny him admission. The Act states: “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, a juvenile who has committed an offence and has been dealt with under the provisions of this Act shall not suffer disqualification, if any, attaching to a conviction of an offence under such law."
Senior officials from correctional services say that several other juveniles have been transformed like Shekhar and are building good careers today. “There is a systematic method in place to reform the kids. The purpose is to reintegrate them into the mainstream society without any stigma attached," said Ms B. Sailaja, director of Juvenile Welfare and Correctional Services Department.