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JUVENILE JUSTICE IN INDIA by - Pranvitha Konduru


Authored by - Pranvitha Konduru



A person who has not attained an age of majority is a minor and a child if commits any offense is not tried as an adult, but a juvenile is a person between the age of 16-18 years and will be tried as an adult in the proceedings of the court. The child will be sent to Child Care Centres. Juvenile indicates a young offender and the difference between both the terms is only in the eyes of law.


In case if the child has not attained the age of 18 years on the date of commission of offense then he is considered to be in conflict with law. Child is a person who has not attained the age of 16 years in case of a boy and a person who has not attained the age of 18 years in the case of a girl which is according to the Children Act, 1960. United Nations Convention on Rights of a child mentions that a child is an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.


The Latin term ‘Nil Novi Spectrum’ complements Juvenile justice. The meaning of this term is that there is nothing on this earth which is new. There was a presumption that the young children must not be dealt strictly but rather they should be handled leniently because there is an assumption that the juveniles have a habit of reacting in a frustrated and aggressive manner. There is a massive increase in the number of crimes committed by children in the past decade. Juveniles of 6-9 years of age are used as devices for the purpose of committing illegal activities. The likelihood of committing the crime is lack of education, early life experience etc.


Definition of child and Juvenile:

Child is an individual who has not attained the age of majority i.e., 18 years of age. The child is considered not mature enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. The concept of ‘doli incapax’ has been adopted in most of the countries which means that the person committing such an act knows that it is a crime. It has been stated that the juvenile who are in between the age of 7-12 years must be convicted only if the child had enough knowledge about the crime, the act must constitute a serious crime and if the child is completely aware of the consequences of his act[1].


        The concept of juvenile justice in India is explained in the articles 5(3), 39 (e) & (f), 45, 47 and there are other International and UN covenants. The Juvenile Justice deals with legal justice with respect to two classes of children. A person who is below the 18 years of age is categorised as a child. This includes a child who is in dispute with law i.e., if a child is accused of any crime and it also includes the class of children who needs care and protection. The legislation that explains the above mentioned concept is the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The provisions of the said act applies to all the matters associated with children. The main purpose of the introduction of this act is to address the commission of offenses by children between 16-18 years of age[2].


The Child is categorized into 2 kinds according to the Juvenile (Care and Protection) Act 2015[3], they are

  • Child who is in conflict with law
  • Child who is in need of constant need and protection


History and Juvenile justice system in India[4]:

Prior to the 19th century, children were treated as adults, tried as adults and were sent to adult jails only. Instead of learning not to commit crimes, they learnt more about commission of crimes. It is when all the states realized that the justice system for adults cannot be applied to children too. U.S was the first country to start a Juvenile Justice Court in Chicago. In 1985, there was a Minimum Standard rule by the UN for the Juvenile Justice which explained about the meaning of the Juvenile and an age of criminal responsibility must be decided on the basis of mental and emotional integrity. It also states that the Juvenile and child must be kept away from the adult. From the year 1990, most of the countries have started to adopt the concept of Juvenile Justice. Then later in the year 1989, four sets of rights have been given to a child by the UN Convention, they are civil, political, social and economic rights. In a case[5] It was decided that a juvenile has all the rights to know the crime and have a council. Later in the 20th century, the Supreme Court adopted systematic procedures in the Juvenile Justice system.


Before 1960 there was no stability regarding the age limit of Juvenile crimes. Each state had separate acts which had different limits. In the year 1959, according to the UN declaration it was decided that a person who has not attained the age of 14 years was considered as a child. Later in the year 1989 it was decided that a child is an individual below the age of 18 years. This situation has forced India to repeal the Juvenile Justice Act and this to be replaced with the Juvenile Justice( Care and Protection) Act, 2000.  According to this the maximum punishment that can be given to a Juvenile was of 3 years and during this period he will not be sent to a normal jail but rather he would be sent to a reform home which helps and encourages him to be a responsible citizen. But later there was a rapid increase in the number of crimes committed by Juveniles. 70% of Juvenile crimes were committed by individuals between the age of 16-18 years. There was a 30% increase in the commission of crimes and minors were involved in illegal and unlawful activities. From the year 2003-2013, there was an increase of 1% - 1.2% in the crimes by juveniles. All these circumstances have forced the replacement of the above legislation with the act of 2015. Then the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection) , 2015 was enacted for ratifying the provisions of the previous legislation related to the children who are in conflict with law and who are in need of care and protection.


Causes and types of Juvenile crimes[6]:

There are various causes for the Juvenile causes. They are,

1. Migration is one of the reasons for the commission of crimes by juveniles. When people move to different places and get new opportunities to commit crime.

2. Environmental causes

3. Biological problems might lead juveniles to commit crimes. Biological problems as in hearing and speaking problems might lead them to deliquete the crimes.

4. Family background and structure is another reason. The bond and relationship with the family is of utmost importance to a child or juvenile. The homeless children are likely to be involved in committing the crimes.

5. If the parents of the child are separated or passed away then that might have an impact on the child. The child might feel insecure and lonely which will encourage him to involve in such illegal and unlawful activities.

6. It is found that the younger and older child encourage and motivate the intermediate child to involve in anti-social activities.

7. If there is any insufficient love for the child by the parents.

8. If the parents are not on good terms and are involved in quarrels, then this might lead to the criminal behaviour of the juvenile.

9. Emotions, mental disorders and disability would lead juvenile to commit crimes

10. Vengeance and lack of education

All the above stated are the reasons for the delinquency of the child.

The following are the types of Juvenile crimes,

1. Crimes which are violent. This is when someone physically hurts the other person and causes bodily damage. These crimes also involve weapons. Examples of violent crimes are rape, assault, murder etc.

2. Crimes related to property. This is when a juvenile uses force or threatens to use force to obtain property of the other person.

3. Crimes related to drugs. These involve sale of narcotic drugs.

The above listed are the causes and types of Juvenile crimes.


Aim and objects of Juvenile Justice( Care and Protection) Act, 2000[7]:

It is important to give much greater attention to juveniles or children. The justice system applicable to adults can be considered the same for children too. The Juvenile Justice System must be effective and must be accessible to juveniles and children. It must also be available to the people acting on their behalf like parents or guardians. There is also a need for required infrastructure to carry out the legislation. The 2000 act repealed the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 to fulfill the below given objectives.

  1. To lay down principles for the purpose of providing justice to a child and juvenile.
  2. To make sure the Justice System will not be in conflict with the UN Convention
  3. To lay down a uniform age of 18 years irrespective of gender
  4. To make sure there is a faster disposal of cases i.e., the cases related to Juvenile or a child must be disposed within 4 months
  5. To implement training programs for the police control and install police units
  6. To provide effective provisions and alternatives for re-integration of the juveniles
  7. To involve voluntary organisations in the implementing the legislations
  8. To cope up with the development needs of the juvenile


Child Welfare Committee- its powers and functions[8]:

Section 27 of chapter V of the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection) , 2015 deals with the Child Welfare Committee. It is mandatory for every state to have one or more such committees. They also have responsibility to discharge their duties with respect to the aspects related to children. These committees are constituted with one Chairperson and four others who are deemed to be fit by the state government and at least one of them must be a woman. These four members must be experts in the matters relating to children. The Secretary and other members would be appointed by the District Child Protection unit. Person to become a member must be involved in health, welfare and education activities concerning children or must have a degree in child psychology or law. The tenure of the member shall not exceed 3 years. Members shall be removed in case of abuse of power, cases of moral turpitude or do not attend the meeting for a continuous period of 3 months. The District Magistrate conducts a review every 3 months. 


This committee is guided by the powers of the Code of Criminal Code. Any person who is related to the child can file to the District Magistrate and subsequent orders will be passed.


Section 29 of the 2015 Act specifies the powers of the Child Welfare Committee. They are

The Committee has full power to dispose of the cases concerned with care, protection, development and rehabilitation of the children who are in need. It has the power to deal with all the proceedings when a committee is for a particular area. Though the committee has power to deal with the cases concerned with children, but the committee cannot act in any manner which would be in conflict with any law which is at time being in force.



The functions of the committee are children who are being neglected can be produced before the committee. The committee also conducts inquiries and investigations of the cases affecting the safety of the children. A registered institute will be selected by the committee where the child can be placed for support and care. To reach out to children who are in need and to take suo moto decisions. The committee also has the power of giving directions to parents and guardians for the well-being of the children, to direct actions for improving the services provided to the children.

The committee also has responsibility to follow due process in law.


Juvenile Justice Board- Powers and Functions[9]:

Section 4 of the act deals with the Juvenile Justice Board. Board consists of Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial magistrate, 2 social workers out of which 1 is a woman. These members form a bench and the power is conferred by CrPC[10]. Powers of the Board are as follows,


  1. The Board constituted for any district has exclusive power under the act to deal with all the proceedings concerned to Juveniles.
  2. The Powers conferred to the Board under this act shall also be exercised by the High court, sessions court in case of appeal or revision.


Functions of the Board are the following;

1. To decide cases of juveniles who are in conflict with law.

2. Acknowledge and deal with the commission of crimes under section 23 to 28.

3. Granting permission to visit Institution.

4. Giving directions to Police and District authority to provide required infrastructure so that standards of justice are met.

5. Cooperate with the Child Welfare Board in the matters concerning the children who are in need of care and protection.

6. Sending information to Child Protection units in both state and central, state government, Judicial Magistrate once in 4 months.

7. Cooperate with the district boards and make sure for speedy inquiry and disposal of the cases.




Problems in administration of justice[11]:

There are few problems in the administration of justice relating to the cases of juveniles. There are mainly two problems. Firstly, many of the districts are yet to form the juvenile courts which cover all the districts. So the other authorities are exercising the power of these courts who may not have sufficient knowledge regarding the same. Secondly, the agencies involved are not reformatory but rather penal which is contrary to the best interest of the child.


Preventing juvenile delinquency[12]:

Juvenile delinquency can be prevented with the help of a few programs. Namely, Individual programmes which include providing proper education to children, giving counseling. This can also be prevented by giving mental treatment to the child which helps in the adjustment of the mental conditions of the child. Giving proper education to the parents can also help in preventing juvenile crimes. Where the parents can be made to maintain a proper relationship with the children, showering affection on them and to make the child feel protective. Erasing inferiority complexes in the minds of the children and developing friendships between juveniles and adults can also help to a certain extent. Making sure if the juveniles are well aware of the punishments to the crimes can scare them away and may help in preventing them from getting involved in the commission of crimes.



There are various reasons and factors for the delinquent behavior of the child like mentioned. These factors influence the mindset of the child which leads to the involvement of the juveniles in the commission of crimes. So, this problem must be tackled in the first place. These children must be rehabilitated as quickly as possible and also the State must protect the rights and interest of the juveniles.




[1] Purti Vyas, Analytical Study of Juvenile Justice System in India, I PLEADERS( Apr.24, 2018), https://blog.ipleaders.in/juvenile-justice-system-india/.

[2] Chhaya Khosla, Overview of Juvenile Justice Law in India, LATEST LAWS COM, Feb. 3, 2019.

[3] Sub- section 12 of section 2.

[4] Dibakar Banerjee, Juvenile Justice, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA, https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-3089-juvenile-justice.html.

[5] Kent V. United States.

[6] By Asian Pacific Law, Juvenile Justice in India, THE LAW BRIGADE PUBLISHERS(Mar.16, 2019), https://thelawbrigade.com/criminal-law/juvenile-justice-in-india/.

[7] Apil khanal, Objects, aims and responses of Juvenile Justice(Care and Protection of Children), Act, 2000, SHAREYOUR ESSAY, https://www.shareyouressays.com/knowledge/objects-aims-and-reasons-of-enacting-the-juvenile-justice-care-and-protection-of-children-act-2000/119446.

[8] Ayush Varma, Powers and functions of Child Welfare Committee, I PLEADERS(Apr.11, 2020), https://blog.ipleaders.in/powers-and-functions-of-child-welfare-committee/.

[9] Hemant, Juvenile Justice Board, THE FACT FACTOR(Apr.22,2020) https://thefactfactor.com/facts/law/legal_concepts/criminology/juvenile-justice-board/12087/.

[10] Code of Criminal Procedure.

[11] Nawaz, Juvenile justice system and its delinquency in India, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA. http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1031/Juvenile-Justice-System-&-its-Delinquency-in-India.html.

[12] Kiran Phogat, Juvenile Delinquency in India Causes and Prevention, 13 GNITED MINDS 625, 625-629(2017).


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