Written by:Adv. Pooja Gupta

Role of Juvenile Justice system in India

Introduction of the Role of Juvenile Justice system in India: – Children are God’s greatest gift; if they are treated with the highest level of human ability, society will profit and be happier as a result. Society will suffer if children are neglected and abused. International law actually considers anyone below 18 years of age to be an adolescent. Because children are our country’s future, it is critical that their rights be safeguarded.

The Indian legal system plays a critical role in the preservation of children’s rights through enacting numerous legislation. In today’s world, judicial activism is a powerful instrument for protecting children’s rights, especially prevention from child maltreatment, trafficking, and sexual abuse, among other things.

History of Juvenile Justice System in India

In the modern period, a movement for the particular treatment of juvenile offenders has sprung up all over the world, especially in many industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America. This movement began in the mid-eighteenth century. Juvenile offenders were once handled the same as other serious criminals. On Nov 20, 1989, the U.N. General Assembly enacted a Declaration on the Rights of children for the same purpose. This treaty is intended to safeguard young offenders’ best interests.

 According to the Treaty, there shall be no legal proceedings or court proceedings against juveniles in order to protect their social rehabilitation. The Convention urges the Indian Legislature to abolish and replace the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 and to enact new legislation As a result, Indian legislators enacted a new law known as “The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.”

The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986, which changed the prior Children Act of 1960, was passed to comply with the provisions to the recommendations made in the U.N’ Fundamental Executive Regulations of Young Offenders, which were ratified in November 1985. The aforementioned Act was divided into 63 sec and 7 chapters, and it was applicable throughout India. The Act’s main goal is to ensure protection and support, as well as rehabilitation, training, and treatment, for mistreated juvenile delinquents.

The primary objectives of the Act

were as described in the following

  • The act primarily formed a consistent structure for the nation’s J.J system, making sure that juveniles’ rights and interests are legally protected.
  • It examines the necessary equipment and necessary infrastructure for care, safeguard, cure, develop, and rehabilitate young perpetrators.
  • It laid the groundwork for the effective and fair treatment of offenders in litigation concerning serious offences committed by juvenile offenders.

Juvenile Justice(J.J.) Act, 2000

The Legislation was passed in the year 2000 with the object of providing safeguard to adolescents. The preceding has been revised twice. The modification was intended to resolve the operational gap & ambiguities.

Furthermore, the rapid rise of juvenile youth violence cases in previous years, as well as the heart wrenching “Delhi Gang Rape Case,” has compelled legislators to enact legislation. The biggest drawback of this law is that the legal and regulatory framework is incomplete, and the juvenile justice structure in India is also an important factor in prohibiting juvenile crimes. This law was soon replaced by the J. J. Act (Protection and Care) Act of 2015.

Distinction  between Juvenile & Child

A minor is an individual who is below the age of lawful obligation & responsibility, or who is below the legal age of 18 years. An accused child is not tried as an adult and is instead of being transferred to a children treatment facility, even though the minor is someone between the ages of 16 and 18. A minor perpetrator has been charged and is being tried as an adult in court.

 In general, both terms have the same definition, but the difference is in the context of the legal implications. Minor refers to a child or juvenile, while juvenile refers to an immature person or a young perpetrator/offender.

Current juvenile court system in Asian countries

India, like other countries, has enacted legislation specifically dealing with the rights and protection of juvenile delinquency with the aim of addressing the issue of juvenile delinquency.

It is based on the idea of three main assumption

  • Young criminals should not be tried, but should be rectified in  the best possible way.
  • They must not be prosecuted, but instead should be granted the chance to reform themselves.
  • Trials against children who violate the law should be based on non-criminal treatment by the community under social control agencies. Observers and special homes.

Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

This Act superseded the J.J Act of 2000, recognizing the need for a more powerful and efficient system of justice that prioritized deterrence and rehabilitation. Juveniles should be treated differently from adults, and it has been expressed in Parliament that they should be given more opportunities for change, correction and improvement, and this is only possible in a special judicial system. Therefore, a new law, the Juvenile Justice Act (Child Care and Protection) Act of 2015, has focused on a youth-friendly approach to addressing and solving problems.

Some of the standout features are

 A clear distinction has been made regarding aspects of crime, meaning that categories have been established to classify crimes as heinous, serious, and minor. Specifications have been established for minors aged 16 to 18 years. If they commit any crimes, they will be tried as adults only after testing their mental skills.

About Juvenile Court, that is special courts created to try misdemeanours only, like  NDPS courts, POCSO courts, etc.  With the entry into force of the 2015 law, By including the following factors among the numerous specified in Article 2 (14) of the Juvenile Justice (Child Care and Protection) Act 2015, the scope of the concept of “Children in Need of Care &  Protection” has been expanded:

People whose guardians or parents are unable or not interested in taking care of the child.  Those who are/are caught doing work in violation of labour laws. People who are on the verge of marrying before they attain the age of majority. The definition of adoption has also been clarified in the statute that recognises children’s right to adoption. The aim is to strengthen rules pertaining to children who are discovered to be breaking the law as well as children who require protection and support by providing their fundamental needs, development, appropriate treatment, social integration, child adoption-friendly environment. The approach in resolving and resolving cases in the best interests of the child. The law also emphasizes the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders through various facilities and care centres.

Juvenile Court

There is a committee structure aimed at investigating and hearing juvenile issues that violate the law.

The board of directors consists of the presiding judge and two social workers, one of whom must be a female. The law provides that the board of directors may not regulate and operate a regular courthouse under any circumstances. The chief judge’s decision is final. Juvenile Court Special Procedures: The law provides procedures for juvenile offenders.

Here are the main special procedures.

  • A complaint filed by the officers or a citizens cannot be used to initiate legal proceedings in a matter.
  • Hearings must be informal and must be strictly confidential.
  • Offenders must remain under surveillance even after detention.
  • Judgments of minors who break the law are made by judges.
  • Children who are in conflict with the law may be referred to individual committee members when the committee is not in session.

Juvenile Delinquency causes

According to researches and research, there are various causes of delinquent behavior in India. Everyone has different behavioral patterns, in the case of children as well. Behavioral patterns develop during infancy and during early life, it is difficult to identify any type of behavior. However, once children reach adulthood and enter the actual world, their behaviours alter with time, and a variety of causes and situations may trigger antisocial behaviour in them.

These were some of the factors that contribute to delinquent behavior

Teenage instability

It is a result of hormonal, mental, and psychological and sociological factors that influence adolescence patterns of behaviour. At this stage, teenagers become more aware of their appearance, fashion, luxury, food, games and more. And at this age they wanted freedom and wanted to be independent, but sometimes parents, teachers, and elder leaders give them every opportunity and leads to develop their antisocial behavior. As a result, antisocial conduct, biological changes, and psychological factors are all factors that contribute to adolescent delinquency.

The collapse of the family system

The collapse of the family system and the loosening of parental controls are also major causes of increased juvenile delinquency. Usually, parental divorce, lack of parental controls, and lack of affection are the main causes of juvenile delinquency.

Economic and poverty

Poverty and bad economic conditions are also the main behind the increase in juvenile delinquency, as  parents and guardians do not meet their children’s needs  and at the same time they want  their  parents to meet their needs. By hook & cook, and when their wishes come true, they begin stealing money from their homes and other parents. And as a result, a habit of stealing developed, leading to widespread theft.

Migration

Migration of homeless and destitute adolescents’ males to slums areas exposes them to anti-social aspects of social life who engage in illicit activities such as sex trafficking, drug trafficking, and narcotics trafficking. These kind of activities are quite appealing to juveniles, and they may participate in them.

Sex Indulgence

Adolescents who have been subjected to sex abuse or any other type of forced physical violence in their early life may exhibit unpleasant conduct and mentality. They may become even more vagrants or seek to have experience of sex at this age. Too much sex diversity may encourage boys to commit crimes such as kidnapping & rapes.

Modern lifestyle Style

Due to rapidly influencing social trends & western life styles, it is exceptionally hard for adolescents to adapt to changing lifestyles. They are forced to deal with cultural issues and not able to distinguish between what is right & what is wrong.

India’s Constitution and Juvenile Justice

The Indian Constitution is regarded as the country’s fundamental law. Citizens’ rights and responsibilities are outlined in the Constitution. It also makes provisions for the operation of the government machinery. Part III of the Constitution provides Basic Rights for its citizens, while Part IV provides DPSP, which serve as general guidance in phrasing laws and policies. The Constitution has established some fundamental rights and provisions, particularly for the child’s welfare. For example: –

  • All children between the ages of 6 and 14 have the right to free & compulsory primary education (Article 21A).
  • Under the age of 14, you have the right to be protected from any hazardous employment (Article 24).
  • Right to be guarded from any type of assault by an adult (Article 39(e)).
  • The right to be free of trafficking in human beings and the compelled bonded labour framework (Article (Article 39).
  • The right to adequate nutrition and a decent quality of life (Article 47).
  • Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution grants specific power and authority to states to enact specific laws for the advancement and improvement of women & children.

As a result, when drafting the Juvenile Act, 2015, lawmakers took into account all of the implementation outlined in the Constitution to ensure that children’s rights are protected in all feasible aspects.

For the same specific purpose, Chapter IV of the Act establishes protections for the improvement of juvenile offenders and focuses on the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Juvenile offenders in all kinds of circumstances.

As per the Act, the maximum penalty for juvenile delinquents is 3 years, and this sentence is applicable to both serious and minor offences. In the instance of an adult perpetrator, the highest penalty that can be imposed is 7 years in jail, life in prison, or the death sentence. However, the Act, in the case of juvenile delinquents, places a strong emphasis on youth rehabilitation. The Act allows for the following types of reformation punishment: – sending adolescents to Rehab Facilities, Adolescent Schools, or requiring them to participate in various government or non-governmental programs.

In today’s world, there is no reason to penalize someone for a horrible and violent crime with such a low sentence based only on their age. Rape is rape, and no one can get away with it by claiming age, mental infirmity, or mental unfitness.

As a result, the present rule, known as Age Determination or Age Consent, has no effect on crime on teenage anti-social behaviour. Adolescent criminals feel that committing heinous crimes is unimportant since they will receive minimal or no punishments in the name of rehabilitation.

Implementing a reformative philosophy of legal punishment gives juveniles an unfair edge in perpetuating their abilities to commit crimes without incurring serious penalties. Reformation is beneficial, but it is not always the case. If the goal of the legislation is to reform juvenile offenders so that they might have a decent standard of living, the victim’s rights must be addressed as well. The victim must be compensated. The philosophy of reformation assists juveniles in reforming, but it does not assist victims in any way.

The current juvenile justice system in India is based on the belief that while young delinquents can be rehabilitated & reformed, incarcerating them will reinforce their status in society as “criminals.” Now the issue is whether or not juvenile criminals will be rehabilitated and will not engage in anti-social behaviour in the future.

The act as a whole is more concerned with reform than with punitive action. Penalization will undoubtedly have a deterrent impact on juveniles, resulting in a reduction in the rate of juvenile criminality.

‘Doli incapax’ doctrine

The idea of ‘Doli Incapax,’ which enunciates the criminal culpability of the adolescent, is among the most essential principles of Criminal Justice. When this doctrine is implemented and interpreted in the context of Indian legislation, the outcome is that no adolescent under the age of 7 must be prosecuted for committing a crime.

The theory of ‘Doli Incapax’ refers to an individual’s inability to violate the law. It is stated in Art. 40 (3) (a) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child, which also specifies that each and every state must clearly state the age limit for juveniles who must be exempt from criminal prosecution due to their inability to understand the nature and repercussions of their acts.

The investigation and prosecution are able to take responsibility for proving the wrongdoing perpetrated by the child in question for juvenile offenders aged 8 to 14.

The key examples summarize the doctrine’s main goals:

  • A child must be protected from the harshness of the punitive action meted out in response to his acts.
  • To help the child conquer his anxiety, a reformative based approach should be used.
  • A children below the age of 7 doesn’t even have the mental capability to understand the consequences of his actions; he or she may clearly have no knowledge as well as the desire to commit crimes, and simple ‘actus reus’ cannot be a basis for court proceedings except if accompanied by ‘mens rea’.

Specific provisions of the penal code and relevant court decisions

Sec. 82 & 83 of the I.P.C., 1860 specifically address the exemption of juveniles from prosecution.

In the case of Kakoo v. Union Of India, the Apex Court reduced the prison sentence of a 13-year-old boy who raped a 2-year-old girl. The court considered sections 83 & 84 of the IPC, which state that juveniles cannot be treated as adults. As a result, it is well-established law that when dealing with juveniles, the court must recognize reformative and humanitarian perspectives.

In the case of Heeralal v. Union of India, however, a child threatened an adult with chopping him into pieces, and the child then stabbed a person to death. The trial court convicted him, citing the fact that the boy was old enough to understand the implications of his acts. The petition was also rejected by the apex Court.

Conclusion of the Role of Juvenile Justice system in India

India’s escalating youth crime rates are a serious worry that should be adequately addressed. Although the govt. has enacted numerous laws and regulations to reduce youth crime, the current laws on adolescents are not having a deterrent effect on the juvenile offenders, so the outcomes are not productive and the legislative intent is not accomplished.

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