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Juvenile Justice In India

Who is a juvenile? Any person below the age of 18 years and is not able to understand the right or wrong is considered as a juvenile. According to the National Crimes Record Bureau, in the past few decades, there has been an unexpected increase in the crimes committed by children between the age of 16-18 years. A 1.3% rise is noticed in the cases committed by juveniles from 2003 to 2013. The reason for such behavior of children towards these acts is the lack of parental care, upbringing, economic condition, negligence, abusive behavior, etc. At this age, children can be manipulated very easily so they are used as a tool for committing such crimes.

Section 83 of IPC says that nothing is an offense which is done by a child between the age of 7 to 12 years and has not attained the maturity to understand the nature and consequences of his act. So, what is the need of the new juvenile laws?

The unforgettable and frightful Nirbhaya case 2012 showed the dire need to introduce a new bill and re-enact the existing 2000( juvenile justice act) as in this case there was an accused who had not attained the age of 18 years and was 6 months away from being a major.

So the new Juvenile justice act ( child care and protection ), 2015 was introduced by Maneka Gandhi in parliament on August 12, 2014. Rajya Sabha passed this bill on December 22, 2015, and came into force on January 15, 2016. 

According to the juvenile justice act, 2015:

  1. The juveniles between the age of 16-18 years will be tried as adults for crimes like rape, murder, etc because the bill says that if the person is committing such acts then he is mature enough to understand its nature and its consequences.
    Crimes are divided into three categories:
    • Under section 2(33) of the JJ act, “heinous offenses” are those for which the minimum punishment under IPC or any other law is imprisonment for 7 years.
    • Section 2(45), “petty offenses” are those for which maximum punishment under IPC or any other law is imprisonment for up to 3 years.
    • Section 2(54), “serious offenses” for which punishment under IPC or any other law is imprisonment between 3 to 7 years.
  2. The provisions of this act will apply to the ‘ children in need of care and protection’ and ‘children conflict with law’.
  3. Every district of the country will have two bodies:
    • Juvenile justice board, and,
    • Child welfare committee

The juvenile justice board will decide whether the person between 16-18 years of age who has committed the act is ‘Child’ or an ‘Adult’. It also deals with the apprehension, detention, penalty, rehabilitation, and social integration of ‘children conflict with law’. It consists of a team of psychologists to ensure the rights of the juvenile are protected if he had committed that crime.

The Child welfare committee deals with the procedures and decisions relating to the adoption and reintegration of children who are in ‘need of care and protection’. It also handles the cases referred by the Juvenile justice board.

Earlier, serious crimes like rape and murder go unpunished with the accused wearing the tag of juvenility and this was needed to stop through proper implementation and reformation of the existing laws. This was a big step for the betterment of society and upcoming generations as well. Adolescents who indulge in wrongdoings are not culprits, they are just casualties of the changing society. These wrongdoings can be stopped if proper education and care are given to them at school or at home.

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