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Juvenile Justice Act in India

Who is Juvenile?

Before going in depth of this act let's first know the term 'juvenile'. It refers to any person below the age of 18 who has been accused of a crime. As you know child is one whose age is under 18 years, but when this child commits any crime, normal or heinous, called a juvenile.

Do you Know there is an act called juvenile justice which deals with juveniles? Do you know in our country juveniles' trials are treated differently from adult criminals' trials? Well, you are going to know more about this act through the following lines-

Juvenile justice act (care and protection of children)2015 passed by the Lok Sabha in may,2015 amidst protest and criticism. It passed by the Rajya sabha in december 2015. It repealed juvenile justice (care and protection act of children) 2000.

Juvenile Act 2000:

According to this act every juvenile in India would not be treated as a normal criminal whether he or she has committed a normal crime or a heinous crime. And maximum punishmwnt was detention in reformatory homes for 3 years. This led to a high controversy and intense protest when one of the accused, in the 2012 Delhi gang rape, was a few months younger than 18 years of age and under the Act was tried in a juvenile court.

And after the Nirbhaya case of 2012 on the seer insistence of people this act had been repealed by juvenile justice amendment act 2015 which contains 10 chapters and 112 sections.

Aim of the Act:
This act was brought to stop juveniles from becoming a harder criminal. The primary goals of the juvenile justice system, to maintain public safety, skill development, habilitation, rehabilitation, addressing treatment needs, and successful reintegration of youth into the community.

Provision of Act:
This act has transformed the central adoption resource authority as a statutory body. The bill also seeks to make the adoption process of orphaned, abandoned children. Families adopting these children will be monitored and shall receive financial aid from the state. Processes have been streamlined with timelines for both in-country and inter-country adoption including declaring a child legally free for adoption. As per the provisions, a single or divorced person can also adopt, but a single male cannot adopt a girl child.

If a child under the age of 16-18 commits a heinous crime then the child could be treated as adult criminals.

However, there would be no death penalty and life imprisonment.

Likely the previous act (juvenile justice ,2000), offender indulging in not very serious crime would not be treated as adult criminals and maximum punishment would be of 3 years.

In the 2000 act, financial help was provided by the state to juveniles till 21 years. However, it changed and now this shall be given when a child is released from the reformatory homes and after completing the age of maturity i.e.,18.

30 days appeal time against order of board to children court.

No appeal against order of acquittal if not involved in heinous crime.

What to do when you see a child committing crime and what procedures are there in act:

You can inform the police indirectly.
Special juvenile police unit is created to deal with such matters. This unit will arrest the child and present him in front of the juvenile justice board within 24 hours. In between this period children would be kept in observation homes, not in jail with other adult criminals.

Juvenile Justice Board:

Board shall consist of metropolitan magistrate, two social workers one shall be woman. Function of this board is basically to protect children's rights throughout the process of apprehending, providing legal aid etc or providing interpreters or requiring social investigation reports.

According to the act , the board has to decide the case within a maximum of 4 months. However, in some serious cases the board can take period of 6 months to decide case.

In matters of normal crime there shall be only summary trial as mentioned in indian penal code.

In serious crime there shall be a summon trial.

In heinous or very serious crimes the juvenile justice board will send the case to children 's courts and then the trial would be dealt there.

If children court find juvenile as convict after hearing all concern points then court can give any punishment except death penalty and life imprisonment.

Punishment can be:
There are different methods of punishment depending on the seriousness of crime like fine,creative punishment as group council wherein psychotherapist or expert conversate to the offender and try to reform his mind and thoughts ,can release on the basis of bond or promise to not misbehave in future(in very normal crime). In serious cases the offender is lodged in reformation homes that rehabilitate the offenders through educational and vocational training.

Any child who has committed any crime has the right to bail till the trial
Parents have the right to know why their child has been arrested and where their child is being imprisoned.

Child in need to care and protection:
These terms have been used in the act. What does it mean? It means that there are some children in the country who need care and protection and the provisions to rehabilitate such children are mentioned in the act.

We Can Understand Through The Following Points That Who Are These Children:

  1. Who is found without any home or settled place of abode.
  2. Mentally ill.
  3. Whose parents or guardian is found unfit to care and protect the child.
  4. Who is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking and so on.

Offences Against Child And Their Punishment:

  1. If one disclose the identity of children- 6 months imprisonment or 1 lakh fine or both
  2. Cruelty to child-3 years imprisonment and 1 lakh fine.
  3. Employing a child for begging- 5 years imprisonment and 1 lakh fine
  4. Giving intoxicating liquor or drugs to child -7 years rigorous imprisonment and 1 lakh
  5. Sale of children for any purpose - imprisonment of 5 years and 1 lakh. And so on.

Authority Established By Act:

Juvenile Act 2015 clearifies the powers, function and responsibilities of Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) and Child Welfare Committee (CWC); clear timelines for inquiry by Juvenile Justice Board (JJB); The Act mandates setting up Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both must have at least one woman member each.

In a Nutshell:
As per the report of the national crime records bureau the crime rate committed by persons within the age of 18 is continuously increasing. And it is needed for every child to be aware of these laws ,so these increasing rates can be controlled. This act was brought to stop juveniles from becoming harder criminal.

It is also observed that the crimes done by children under the age of 15-16 have increased significantly. The general tendency or the psychology behind the commitment of the crime or the causes of crime are early-life experiences, dominant masculinity, upbringing, economic havocs and so on. Since the minds of the kids possess an innocent and manipulative character, If we can understand the child�s subjective problem, we can stop Juvenile Crime. Written By: Tanu Mishra - BALLB From University Of Allahabad (2nd Year)

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