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Juvenile Tired as an Adult: Need For Legislation

The society has undergone tremendous change in terms of its ideologies, perspectives and its moral and ethical standard. What was said as immoral a decade ago is no more in the same light. The aspiration for better opportunities, good life, and comfort has indeed opened new doors for development. Yet the same aspirations have led us into a fast moving way of life without spending time with for ourselves and personal introspection. This change in society falls on the children as well.

They are now exposed to this fast-growing race, competitiveness and stress for better performance in every pasture, which has brought a lot of complications. A coin has two sides as God and Evil likewise the laws in protecting the Child and their rights on one side and the child offenders or Hoodlum in the other side.

The coins may not wall ways face to the right side but also to evil which goes extend of majority times while tossing it. According to our Indian Juvenile Justice System, when a minor done a crime then it is not naturally borne by them rather, it is believed that it is because of the sudden force that is in every minor or either due to his idiocy or to his lack of discipline. The Justice system is also failed to understand that effect caused by them while committing a crime which is against the humanity and personal liberty of other parties (victim).

Therefore, the other side of a coin should be also addressed equally without any partiality for rendering complete justice, by treating all the juveniles in the same line rather making a reason as lack of knowledge and stupidity would endanger to other humans around him in the situation of offence. Hence, Adults or Juvenile should be decided as per the gravity and nature of offence they have committed not by the age of minority as sole ground.

Juvenile Jusitce System In India

As stated supra a Juvenile is a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, whereas he/ she shall not be treated as normal offender rather with separate Court, care and rehabilitation homes. It may sound good when a Juvenile to rehabilitate the minor who has done any crime which is less gravity in nature or may an act which is done due to social or economic problems faced by that Juvenile. For instance, stealing bread or fruits from a shop for his/her survival, but going beyond the mind of normal Juvenile, committing a heinous crime which cannot be acceptable to be tried separately only on the grounds of his /her age under the Juvenile Justice Act. Whereas the question of law arises when a Justice System treat both the offenders in the same line.

The above said question was raised after the horrific gang-rape of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012 by a juvenile among others. The terrible incident serves as a root cause for the Amendment in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2016. The Amendment Act, formulated after much public clamor that offers provisions to try juveniles above 16 years have committed heinous crimes to be tried as an adults.

Statistics On Crimes Committed By Juveniles

In pursuance to above Amendment, the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says the juvenile criminals between 16 and 18 years accounted for more than 60% of the crimes registered against minors in India in 2016. In fact, the count of juveniles conflicting with law has increased by a significant number in recent years.

From the year 2016 to 2018 there has been a drastic increase of serious offence made Juvenile which is published in National Crime Reports as follows:

In the year of 2016 total crimes committed by Juveniles under different heads and age group

In the year of 2016 total crimes committed by Juveniles under different heads and age group

Both the statistics shows the seriousness of the situation prevailing in our country, that how much a Juvenile is contribution in Criminal Acts. As the years goes, in parallel the offence is also increasing in same motion.

Increase In Educated Juvenile Offenders

In the other hand the shocking and surprise news is that the number of ‘educated' juvenile offenders, who have studied up to matriculation and higher secondary levels, increased to 6,260 in 2017 from 4,244 in 2016 — a difference of over 32 per cent, said the NCRB report. On the other side, the count of ‘illiterate' juveniles caught for criminal act reduced by 20 per cent, the report revealed. Most juvenile offenders habitually fall in the ‘illiterate' category, but the NCRB data, which has come a year late, shows otherwise. From 5,412 ‘illiterate' juvenile delinquents in 2016, the number came down to 4,324 in 2017, according to the National Crime Report Bureau 2018.

The NCRB report 2018
This report shows that more than social and economic situation, other fators contribute the Juvenile to commit an offence which should be controlled in strict laws. Because the Juveniles who are involing in petty offence due to his family can be rehabilitaed and shall reformed in care homes. The age of Juvenile but mind as Adult should be treated an adult as per the nature and gravity of offence.

Important Cases To Be Remembered

The major 7 cases which shows that the Juveniles should be tried as an adult as per the gravity and nature of offence done by him. In the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi (main accused a juvenile), the Shakti Mills rape case, Hatigaon Rape case (all are juvenile), Mayur Vihar Murder case (all accused are Juveniles), Chandigarh Rape and Murder case (Juvenlie), Mercedes Hit and Run case (1 month less to obtain 18 years but treated as juvenile.

Shockingly, in these cases, majority of accused was a juvenile. While in these cases the adult offenders were given the death sentence & life imprisonment but the juveniles got away with just three years in a remand home. The questions that come to our mind is, is this punishment enough to them on considering the age as a sole ground for making a differentiation of adult and a juvenile.

Whereas in total, 42% of Indian population are under the age of 18 years, who should be wisely monitored rather giving privilege in committing a crime. Even though the criminal amendment 2016 has made to reduce juvenile age to 16-18 years for heinous offences, this may not give a proper solution rather animosity between law and public order.

The delinquency by minor should be correct and property rehabilitated were the crime may be done due to socio-economic factors of that child but at the same time the heinous offender should be tried as an adult on basis of gravity and nature of crime. The Crime Report clearly shows that the Juvenile committing crime due to Socio-Economic factor is lesser than indented offences.

Opinion Of The Hon'ble Supreme Court

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 has been condemn on a many of occasions. Whereas, the court while hearing a case in 2014, with respect to Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, it was viewed, by the Divisional Bench of Justice Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit that there is need for the law to satisfy the desire of society, and the punishment to reduce the gravity of the crime. The Hon'ble Bench also referred the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 as far too flexible and asked the Government to strenghthen the law.

In Gaurav Kumar v. State of Haryana, the Supreme Court had been of the opinion that the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 needs a reappraisal as it has failed to deter the juveniles of the country from committing petty as well as heinous crimes.

International Perceptive On Juvenile Laws

The US has a relatively high rate of juvenile delinquency. In 2011, the number of juvenile delinquents was 129,456 out of a population of 250 million. Although the traditional age of majority is 18 years, nearly all States permit persons less than 18 years to be tried as adults.

In state of California, the persons older than 14 years may be tried as adults if they commit serious crimes (rape, robbery, murder etc.). The state of New York condensed the age of juvenility at 18 to 16 years, and permits the prosecution of persons aged between 13-16 years as adults in case of serious crimes. In Florida, the prosecutor has discretionary power to decide when the juvenile treated as such or as an adult, owing to concurrent jurisdiction of the juvenile and adult criminal courts.

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985, the Convention of the Rights of the Child, 1990 and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, 1990, The international commitments entered into by India obliges it to set up a particular framework to deal with juvenile offenders and such obligations can be more comprehensively met and effectuated by understanding the Act in the aforesaid manner.

The practice is strict in several foreign jurisdictions, namely in U.K, USA and Canada, and European countries for adjudicating criminal liability of juvenile offenders. In Specific, the application of statutory exclusion which produce guarantee that the perpetrators of certain grave offences are tried as an adult; ‘judicial waiver', giving discretion to juvenile courts to waive jurisdiction and transfer the case to an ordinary court of law and also the policy of concurrent jurisdiction of both the courts giving discretion to the prosecutor and initiate proceedings in the appropriate court as per such jurisdictions.

The law defines the offences which it punishes in such a way as to make the state of mind or will of the offender aware of the fact that such a course of action would lead to such an infringement of law and a punishment will follow. The same offence should attract same punishment and hence a child if he/she have sufficient maturity to understand the nature of the act committed to forming mens rea and should not be taken to be too innocent. If the status quo continue then it proves We are in interest of law not on the interest of justice. It is hoped that this paper would help research scholars and students to understand that all the juveniles should not be treated in the same line.

  • The National Crime Report Bureau 2016
  • The National Crime Report Bureau 2017
  • The National Crime Report Bureau 2018
  • Dr. Subramanian Swamy And Ors Vs. Raju Thr.Member Juvenile Justice Board in the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India ,CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 695 OF 2014.
  • Criminology, Penology and Victimology – S.M.AFZAL QADRI
  • United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985,
  • The Convention of the Rights of the Child, 1990
  • The United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, 1990

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