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Juvenile Justice System In India

Juvenile Justice System is the most progressive and enlightened system adopted by the world citizenry with all round growth of children. The prime focus is to reform the deviants and provide care to the unprotected child. As far as practicable, a child to be rehabilitated and restored to the family. The special court to adopt the doctrine of parens patriae while adjudicating the matter of child in conflict with the law. The article evaluated the JJS in India in the light of constitutional philosophy and International parameters.

Understanding the present state of the Juvenile Justice System (JJS) in India requires recourse to history. The JJS in India originated during British rule. Before the British regime in India, Juveniles were treated by the family and society in general.

Gone are those stormy days when the problems of Juvenile were not considered as a separate system. It can be witnessed from the past that the children were thrown into prison without trial. They were locked in the jail along with hardened criminals. In the nineteenth century penologists prescribed equal punishment for both adults and Juveniles. History reveals that juveniles were hanged, transported and imprisoned like adult criminals.

Gradually the problem of youth offenders was given separate treatment .The constitution of India provided separate treatment for the children and women. The assumption that is reported in the social milieu is undertaken to make a strong JJS in India. In this article an attempt is made to analyze the special treatment adopted by India for Juveniles in the light of its constitutional philosophy and the international conventions.

Meaning And Concept
The etymological term �Juvenile� means young person or any young person retaining the nature and characteristics of a child. The term Delinquency connotes �failure to observe norms of society or omission of duty, involving crime or doing any wrong. The term Justice means concern for justice, fairness, equitableness or a concern for peace and genuine respect for people. It is a principle of moral rightness in the pursuit of fair treatment against unfair behavior. Juvenile Justice System is a system coming within the area of criminal law administration of justice. This is a system adopted for the young person not old enough to be held responsible for criminal acts.

Juvenile delinquency is the doing of some act against society by young persons. The term Juvenile Justice means what is just, fair and equitable to the child or young persons in shaping their personality in the society. �Juvenile Justice System� means a process to deal with the problem concerned with children and society. The main purpose of JJS is to insulate children by resorting to appropriate treatment and create an environment to develop a positive human personality. JJS is a socio-legal measure to create an atmosphere for the treatment of delinquent juveniles.

Almost all countries of the civilized world have adopted Juvenile Justice Law to treat the young offender in the most equitable manner, so that they can lead a peaceful moral and democratic life. JJS applicable to the persons; those are under 18 years of age. Juvenile Justice is administered through Juvenile court, a court which is child friendly in nature. The main goal of this System is to adopt rehabilitative measures rather than punitive measures. If a child commits or any wrong young person turns delinquent, the Juvenile court takes measures for foster care and soft treatment through special institutions. So that Juvenile offenders can find a path to lead a decent life.

Aftermath of Nirbhaya Case

Today (After Nirbhaya case) many people are aware that a separate Justice System exists for Juveniles. Many people are not yet aware how JJS works. After the incident of Nirbhaya people turned sentimental and expressed their hostile attitude towards the decision of the court. They demanded a death sentence for the child involved in the Nirbhaya case.

There was roaring in parliament and the new law (Juvenile Justice Care and protection of children 2015) came into existence in India. It is a comprehensive provision for children alleged and found to be in conflict with the law. It also deals with children in need of care and protection. This law is enacted taking into consideration conventions of Rights of the child and other related international instruments.The government of India acceded the convention of Rights of the Child (CRC) on 11 Dec.1992.

According to the international treaties and constitutional parameters, it is the responsibility of the state to treat the children with all softness and for the best interest of the child. However, there is a strong public demand for harsher punishment for youths who commit adult crime i.e. serious crimes like murder, rape, robbery, dacoit etc. Such youths should be punished like adults.

Of course, there is inflammatory rhetoric about youth crimes and there is increased public cynicism about the present JJS. Since the adoption of our constitution a lot of efforts were made to understand the philosophy of the JJS and accordingly various laws were enacted. But all the efforts are half-hearted and need serious consideration. The stakeholders of the Juvenile Justice Administration must take note of the serious conditions that prevail in our JJS. Intellectuals criticize poorly conceived policies and squandering huge precious resources.

Development of juvenile justice system

The Juvenile Justice System developed throughout the world with a conception that children are not mature like adults. They failed to understand the nature and consequence of their acts. This idea is based on the legal �principle of doli incapax� i.e. children do not have capacity to form criminal intentions.

Therefore, a child cannot be made liable for acts which are illegal. An adult is commonly understood to mean a person who has reached maturity of mind. In psychological perception, a person is mature �who possesses certain skills that are the product of both cognitive development and the nature of the person�s interactions with his or her environment.

The development of the child�s cognitive abilities is, to some extent, influenced by the child's environment. The child is able to understand and interpret the world differently because of his or her ability to engage in more abstract thought. It is to be noted that there is no general consensus about the definition of youth and child. Different statutes have different mandates in the matter of age or attaining adulthood. There is policy shift in the new Juvenile Justice legislation.

It is a very progressive Act, designed to adopt the philosophy of parens patriae and prescribe institutionalized care and protection. The only shift witnessed is to punishing delinquents involved in case serious offence. JJS is adopting policy for the reformation and socialization of the young person and punishment is an exception. JJS is essentially different from ordinary criminal courts, adopting informal hearing.

Substantive amendments were made to the existing juvenile Justice act of 2015 on July 28. Rajya Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Amendment Bill 2021. It was passed with an overwhelming majority by Lok Sabha during the budget session of 2021. Surprisingly, this bill received support from the opposition as well as the ruling party. After receiving assent from the President, the new amendment bill will come into force.

The Juvenile Justice System is based on the principle of social welfare and rights of the child. The prime focus of the JJS is reformation and rehabilitation. It is to create opportunities for the child to develop his personality. The goal after all, is to proceed ahead to create an egalitarian society of high order. Children are the future resources of the country.

They must be transformed from negative to positive personalities. However, looking to the past experience, we have to bridge the wide gap between theory and practice. In this process, we have to build a good infrastructure and efficient Juvenile Justice Administration. The new legislation carries the dreams, we need to make the dream reality.
  Written By: Divyansh Jasoria

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