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A Brief Of Juvenile Justice: Care And Protection Act 2015

The legislative history concerning children in conflict with the law in India reflects a gradual evolution aimed at addressing the needs and rights of juvenile offenders.
Here is a summary of key legislative milestones:
  1. Apprentices Act, 1850:

    • Enacted in 1850, this was the first law in India addressing children in conflict with the law.
    • Allowed courts to treat children who committed petty crimes as apprentices instead of sending them to prisons.
  2. Reformatory Schools Act, 1876:

    • The second law dealing with juvenile offenders, emphasizing reformative measures.
  3. Indian Jails Committee (1919-20):

    • Made recommendations concerning children in conflict with the law.
  4. Children Act, 1960:

    • Focused on the care, maintenance, protection, welfare, education, training, trial, and rehabilitation of neglected and delinquent children.
  5. Juvenile Justice Act, 1986:

    • The first central law on juvenile justice, providing a uniform law for the entire country.
    • Emphasized rehabilitation and care for juvenile offenders.
  6. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1992):

    • India ratified the Convention, necessitating a law conforming to its standards.
  7. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000:

    • Enacted after repealing the JJA, 1986.
    • Aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  8. Juvenile Justice Act, 2015:

    • Changed the nomenclature from 'juvenile' to 'child' and 'child in conflict with the law'.
    • Defined orphaned, surrendered, and abandoned children.
    • Classified crimes by children into petty, serious, and heinous offenses.
    • Introduced a child-friendly approach, emphasizing counseling rather than punishment.
    • Distinguished between children in conflict with the law and those in need of care and protection.
    • Established the Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committee with specific functions and powers.
    • Provided for the efficient adoption system, mandatory registration of childcare institutions, and statutory status for the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
    • Allowed treating minors aged 16-18 as adults in the case of heinous crimes, subject to assessment by the Juvenile Justice Board.
The legislative journey reflects a shift towards a more comprehensive and child-centric approach, focusing on rehabilitation, protection, and adherence to international standards for the rights of children in conflict with the law.

Who Is A Juvenile?
The information you provided accurately highlights key aspects of the legal framework in India related to juveniles and children in conflict with the law.

Here's a breakdown:
  1. Definition of Juvenile:

    • According to Indian law, a juvenile is defined as any individual below the age of 18.
  2. Age Exemption for Conviction:

    • Children below the age of 7 cannot be convicted under any law for any crime. This recognizes the developmental stage and legal capacity of very young children.
  3. Distinction in Terminology:

    • Under earlier laws, the terminology used for both categories was simply "juveniles," leading to ambiguity in distinguishing between children in conflict with the law and those in need of care and protection.
  4. Amended Law (2015 Act):

    • The amended law, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, introduced clear distinctions between "children in conflict with the law" and "children in need of care and protection."
  5. Clear Distinction:

    • The purpose of using distinct terms is to clarify and differentiate between juveniles who have come into conflict with the law and those who require care and protection due to various circumstances.
These legal provisions reflect a nuanced understanding of the needs and vulnerabilities of children, aiming to provide appropriate interventions based on the specific situation of each child. The emphasis on clear terminology helps in crafting targeted and effective measures for rehabilitation, protection, and support based on the circumstances faced by different groups of children.

Positives of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015:

  1. Clear Distinction:
    • The Act brings clarity by distinguishing between children in conflict with the law and those in need of protection and care. This differentiation allows for tailored interventions based on the specific needs of each group.
  2. Mandatory Registration of Children's Homes:
    • Making the registration of all children's homes mandatory enhances transparency and efficiency within the system, ensuring better oversight and accountability.
  3. Crime Reduction for 16-18 Year-Olds:
    • The Act aims to reduce crimes committed by children aged 16 to 18. This acknowledges the need for specific measures to address offenses committed by adolescents in this age group.
  4. Justice for Heinous Crimes:
    • The provision allowing 16 to 18-year-olds to be tried as adults in cases of heinous crimes is seen as a step towards providing justice to victims of such offenses.

Negatives of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015:

  1. Vulnerability of 16-18 Age Group:
    • Critics argue that placing 16-18 year-olds in adult jails may harm their rehabilitation due to psychological and physical vulnerabilities at this age. Close contact with professional criminals may exacerbate the situation.
  2. Potential Violation of Constitutional Rights:
    • Treating minors between 16 and 18 differently is seen by some as a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality for every citizen.
  3. Contravention of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
    • The Act's provision for treating 16-18 year-olds like adults contradicts the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which suggests treating individuals below 18 as children.
  4. Subjectivity of Psychological Assessment:
    • The requirement for psychological assessment to determine whether a minor can be treated as an adult is criticized for its subjectivity and lack of scientific precision.
  5. Questionable Data and Socioeconomic Factors:
    • Skepticism surrounds the data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), and there is an emphasis on addressing the socioeconomic factors contributing to children's involvement in crime.
  6. Preventive Measures and Rehabilitation:
    • The Act's focus on rehabilitation is praised, but there is also a call for preventive measures, such as creating better environments for children in economically weaker sections and fostering open communication between parents and children.
The dual nature of positive reforms and potential drawbacks underscores the complexity of legislating for juvenile justice and the ongoing need for thoughtful consideration and evaluation of the legal framework.

Written By: Jasdeep Kaur advocate legal aid counsel at Delhi state legal aid services authority is registered Research Scholar law (Ph.D) at Amity University Jaipur Advocate She had worked as Law officer Women and Child Dept Govt of Delhi Nct Ex panel lawyer govt of Delhi nct She did her schooling from Ghps Vasant Vihar New Delhi, Graduated in BA English Hons from Mata Sundri college of Women University of Delhi (regular) She did her LLm ( Uslls Ip university Delhi Dwarka) Regular
Email [email protected], Ph no: 9821378225

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