A Latin maxim that suits best for the Juvenile Justice system in India is 'Nil
Novi Spectrum' which implies that nothing is new on this earth. There has
existed a presumption in the whole world since the ancient period that the
Juveniles should be dealt with leniently because there exists a system of
thought that says– Young folks generally have a habit to respond in a serious
and prolonged frustration which is accompanied with aggressive approaches.
In the last few years, it is also observed that the crimes done by children
under the age of 15-16 have increased significantly. The general tendency or the
psychologies behind the commitment of the crime or the causes of crime are
early-life experiences, dominant masculinity, upbringing, economic havocs, lack
of education, etc. It is a matter of ignominy that the children under the age of
6-10 are nowadays used as instruments for carrying out unlawful or illegal
activities. Since the minds of the kids possess an innocent and manipulative
character, they can be lured at a meager cost.
Juvenile Justice Act, 2000
The Act was enacted in the year 2000 with the aim and intent to provide
protection for children. The mentioned was amended twice – first in the year of
2006 and later in the year of 2011. The amendment was made to address the gap
and loopholes in the implementation.
Further, the increasing number of cases of juvenile crimes in the
last recent years and the frightful incident of the Delhi Gang Rape Case have
forced lawmakers to come up with the law. The major drawback of the Act was that
it contains ill-equipped legal provisions and the malfunctioning juvenile system
was also the major reason in preventing juvenile crimes in India. The act was
replaced soon by The Juvenile Justice( Care and Protection) Act, 2015.
Present Juvenile Justice System in India
Like the other countries, India had also made legal provisions that especially
and specifically deal with the rights and protection of juvenile offenders which
seeks to tackle the problem of juvenile delinquency.
The Juvenile Justice System in India is made on the basis of three main
- Young offenders should not be tried in courts, rather they should be
corrected in all the best possible ways,
- They should not be punished by the courts, but they should get a chance
- Trial for children in conflict with law should be based on non-penal
treatment through the communities based upon the social control agencies for
e.g. Observation Homes and Special Homes.
Juvenile Justice Act, 2015
The Juvenile Justice act of 2015 replaced the Juvenile Justice act of 2000
because there existed a need for a more robust and effective justice system that
focused on deterrent as well as reformative approaches. The approach towards
Juveniles should be different from that of adults, there were contentions made
in the Parliament that the Juveniles should be given more space for
transformation or reformation or improvement and that is only possible when
there's a special justice system.
Thus, the new act i.e. the Juvenile Justice
(care and protection of children) Act, 2015 focused on a Juvenile friendly
approach of adjudication and disposition of matters.
Some of the salient features are as follows:
- Section 2 (12) of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children)
Act, 2015 gives the definition of the Child, meaning thereby that a child is
a person who hasn't completed the age of 18 i.e. he/she is below 18. The Act
has given a classification regarding the term Child namely Child
in need of care and protection and Section 2 (13) of the Juvenile
Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2015 that talks about
Child in conflict with law.
- There was a clear distinction made regarding the facets of offenses,
meaning thereby that categories were made terming the offences as heinous,
serious, and petty. There have been specifications made regarding the
Juveniles who are between the age of 16-18, if any kind of crime is
committed by them then after due perusal of their mental capacity, they can
be tried as an adult.
- Introduction of Juvenile courts, meaning thereby that special courts
were to be established that will be trying the Juvenile offences only, like
that of the NDPS courts, courts dealing with POCSO, etc.
- With the coming of the 2015 Act, the scope of the definition of Child
in need of care & protection was enhanced to another level by
considering the following points from the many mentioned in Section 2 (14)
of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2015:
- Those whose guardians or parents are/ were unfit or uninterested in
taking care of the child.
- Those who are/ were found performing works that are in contravention to
the labor laws.
- Ones who have the imminent threat of marriage before attaining the
specified lawful age.
- The meaning of adoption has also been specified in the Act through which
the rights an adopted child stands recognized.
Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
Researches and Studies show that they are various causes of juvenile delinquency
in India. Every person has different behavioral patterns so as in the case with
children also. The behavior patterns develop in early childhood and at an early
stage, it is very difficult to identify any kind of behavior. But as soon as,
the child grows up comes out to the real-world, behavior patterns changes from
time to time and many circumstances or situation may arise the delinquent
behavior in them.
Following are some of the causes of Juvenile Delinquency:
- Adolescence Instability:
The biological, psychological, and sociological are
important factors in the behavior pattern of adolescents. At this stage,
teenagers become more conscious about their appearances and fashions, enjoyment,
food, play and etc. And at this age, they want freedom and they wanted to be
independent but sometimes they are given any chances and opportunities by their
parents, teachers, and elders this leads to the development of anti-social
behavior in them. Thus, this anti-social behavior, biological changes,
psychological causes are some of the reasons which are responsible for juvenile
- Disintegration of Family System:
Disintegration of the family system and
laxity in parental control is also the main cause of increasing rates of
juvenile delinquency. In normal cases divorce of parents, lack of parental
control, lack of love, and affections are the major factors of juvenile
- Economic condition and Poverty:
Poverty and poor economic condition are also
considered as major contributing factor of increasing juvenile crimes as a
result of poverty, parents or guardian fails to fulfill the needs of the child
and at the same time, children want that their desires should be fulfilled by
parents by hook or by cook and when their desires are met they start themselves
indulging in stealing money from homes or any other parents. And this develops a
habitual tendency of stealing which results in theft on a large scale.
Migration of deserted and destitute juvenile boys to slums areas
brings them in contact with some anti-social elements of society that carry some
illegal activities like prostitution, smuggling of drugs or narcotics, etc.
These sorts of activities attract the juvenile a lot and they may involve
themselves in such activities.
- Sex Indulgence:
The children who have experienced sexual assault or any other
kind of unwanted physical assault in their early childhood may develop any kind
of repulsiveness in their behavior and mind. At this age, they may become more
vagrants or may want to have sex experience. Too much sex variance may lead the
boys towards the crime of kidnapping and rapes etc.
- Modern LifeStyle:
The rapidly changing social patterns and modern living
style, make it very difficult for children and adolescents to adjust themselves
to the new ways of lifestyle. They are confronted with problems of cultural
conflicts and are unable to differentiate between right and wrong.
The juvenile court is also recognized as a children's court situated to handle
problems of delinquent, neglected, or abused children. It is the sine qua non,
to accomplish the proceeding of the court informally and paternally so that the
juvenile can be treated in a cozy and child accustomed way.
Under this Juvenile
Justice law and provisions of the Criminal Code Procedure, children are not to
be taken to a regular criminal court, the purpose of a separate court is
socio-legal rehabilitation and reformation instead of punishment. Two types of
cases are processed by a juvenile court: civil matters, usually concerning the
care of an abandoned child or one whose parents cannot support him; and criminal
matters arising from antisocial behavior by the child.
Now regarding the courts where the juvenile is tried, if the
juveniles are found to be below the age of 16 years, they will be tried by the
Juvenile Justice Board. JJB consists of a Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial
Magistrate First Class but, not being Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or Chief
Judicial Magistrate. And two social workers (one being a woman) with experience
of 7 years in health, education, or welfare activities pertaining to children
or, a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology, psychiatry,
sociology, or the law. And maximum of 3 years of sentence can be passed.
Secondly, if the juvenile is between the age of 16-18, and has
committed a heinous crime as mentioned under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, he will
be tried by the Children's court as an adult . The children's court may be an
existing court of session, that is dealing with child-specific laws or a special
court which are set up for the purpose of dealing with crimes under the JJ Act.
And can pass sentences of more than 3 years but not the death penalty and life
imprisonment. If the child is found guilty of the heinous offense, he will be
sent to the observatory home till 21 years of age, after he will be sent to
The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 also mandates for setting up of Juvenile Justice
Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district.
Juvenile Justice and Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is considered the fundamental law of India.
Constitution provides rights and duties of citizens. It also provides provision
for the working of the government machinery. Constitution in Part III has
provided Fundamental Rights for its citizens in the same manner in its Part IV
it has provided Directive Principles of State Policies (DPSP) which acts as
general guidelines in framing government policies.
Constitution has provided some basic rights and provisions especially for the
welfare of children. Like:
- Right to free and compulsory elementary education for all children under
the age of 6 to 14 years. (Article 21A)
- Right to be protected from any hazardous employment under the age of
fourteen ages. (Article 24)
- Right to be protected from being abused in any form by an adult.
- Right to be protected from human trafficking and forced bonded labor
system. (Article 39)
- Right to be provided with good nutrition and a proper standard of
living. (Article 47)
- Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India provides special powers to
State to make any special laws for the upliftment and the betterment of children and
Therefore, the lawmakers while drafting the Juvenile Act, 2015 has considered
all the necessary provisions laid down by the Constitution so that child's
rights are protected in all possible ways.
This is for the same reason that Chapter IV of the Act lays down the provisions
for the betterment of the juveniles and has focused on the Reformation and
Rehabilitation of Juveniles in all the possible circumstances.
The increasing rates of juvenile crime in India in very concerning issue and
need to be focused upon. Although the government has laid various legislation
and rules to stop the incidents of juvenile crimes the present laws on juveniles
are not creating a deterrent effect on the juveniles and thus the results are
not fruitful and the legislative intent is not accomplishing.