Who Are Juveniles?
Juveniles are the person who has not attained the age of majority that means who
is below 18 and has committed a crime whether it is heinous or not. They are
also known as juvenile offenders or juvenile delinquents. For example, the
minimum smoking age in India is 18 and people below that are called minors or
underage. The juvenile cases are heard in juvenile court, a type of civil court
with different rules than an adult criminal court. However in certain cases,
older juveniles can be tried as adults in criminal court.
Difference Between Juvenile And Child
A person under the age of full legal
obligation and responsibility is a minor or a person who is below the legal age
of eighteen years is minor. A child who is accused of crime and is not tried as
adult and is sent to Child Care Center whereas juvenile is a person between age
group of 16-18 years.
Why Do They Need Justice System?
In ancient times there was a presumption that the juveniles should be dealt
leniently because there exists a system of thought which says- Young people have
a habit of reacting impulsively which is known to be the aggressive approach. In
last few years, it is observed that the crime rate has increased mostly which
are done by children under the age of 15-17 significantly.
The psychology behind
the commitment of crimes are upbringing, lack of education, aggressive nature,
dominant masculinity, etc. In late 1960's the government passed an act in the
parliament called Children Act of 1960 that aimed to provide care, protection,
maintenance, welfare, training, education, and rehabilitation and development of
neglected or delinquent children per se.
The act was created with a certain set
of goals. Its primary purpose was to give boundaries and help for local
authorities and/or other entities to better regulate official intervention in
the interests of children. But in the light of recent crime events in our
country the Indian law maker's hands are forced to make some compelling laws
about juveniles as well. As a result, they made the Juvenile Justice Act of
1986, Juvenile Justice Act 2000 then Juvenile Justice Act 2015 and recently
Juvenile Justice Act 2021 which was passed by both Lok Sabha as well as Rajya
The bill contains provisions related to children in conflict with law and
children in need of care and protection. Once former Chief Justice of India,
Justice V.K. Krishna Iyer stated that:
We need penal code because the child is
the father of a man if we're neglecting the underdevelopment in children, then
we would be guilty of many faults and errors related to abandoning our
We all remember the devastating incident of Nirbhaya Delhi Gang Rape
Case which happened on December 16, 2012 which left whole nation on shock. Many
questions arised that time and reason of debate was the involvement of accused
who was about to get 18. The involvement of minor in such heinous crime forced
the law makers to introduce a new law and thus the Indian Parliament came up
with a new law which is Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015. The
law replaced the old juvenile laws and has introduced some remarkable changes
and in which one of the changes was that the age group of 16-18 years should be
tried as an adult if the person has done some heinous crime which is
Current Juvenile Justice System
As per current juvenile justice system, which follows the bill passed in 2015,
that is Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 has been
passed by Parliament of India after a lot of protest, argument and controversy.
It replaces the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 and allows that
juveniles age group of 16-18 who has committed heinous crime to be tried as
adults. It was passed on 7 May 2015 by Lok Sabha and 22 December 2015 by Rajya
The bill will allow Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committees
to decide whether the juvenile accused should be treated as an adult or not. The
bill adds the adoption procedures for an orphan and abandoned children.
Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of
Children) Amendment Bill,2021 which strengthen the provisions for protection and
adoption of children.
Some experts and statistics says that there was need of
the amendment as the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
audit of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in 2020, 90% of which are run by NGOs,
found that 39% CCIs were not registered, even after 2015 amendment was brought
in. The act provides that any crime or an offence which is unpardonable with
imprisonment between 3 to 7 years to be cognizable (where a person can be
arrested without warrant) and non-bailable.
Claim Of Juvenility
The claim of juvenility is to be decided by Juvenile Justice Board. It will
decide the claim before the court proceedings but the claim can be raised before
court at any point of time. The Board had to consider Rule 12 of Juvenile
Justice Rules, 2007.
Here are some cases in which people have claimed juvenility during and even
after disposal of proceedings:
Kulai Ibrahim V/S State Of Coimbatore: In this case it was observed that the
accused has a right to raise it's juvenility at any point of time during the
trail or even after that under the section 9 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
Satbir Singh & Others V/S State Of Haryana: In this case Supreme Court again
repeated that for the purpose resolution it doesn't matter whether the accused
is juvenile or not, the date of birth will be taken into consideration which is
recorded in the school records.
Rights Of Juvenile Offenders
- Right to a lawyer
- Right to cross-examine witnesses.
- Right to provide evidence to support one's own case.
- Right to remain silent.
- Right to an appeal.
- Right to a transcript of a trail (written copy of the trail).
- Right to have fair and speedy trails.
- Right to have no juries in juvenile cases.
- Right to have parents and guardians present at hearing.
Children are the valued assets they need to be tend and protected. We all know
that the juvenile offenders are increasing rapidly, and that can be because of
lack of education, aggressive nature or etc. The children need to have some
basic rights which can help them to have a better future. There are lot of
juveniles who are unable to afford a lawyer and these acts help them to enjoy
legal remedies. In our Indian Constitution every individual is equal before eyes
of law thus everyone has a right to defend or protect itself with the help of
law whether it is a plaintiff or a defendant, adult or minor, girl or boy the
law never discriminate.
BA-LLB (hons.) - Jagran Lakecity