ROLE OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN INDIA
Authored By-Aarushi Roy,
Indian Institute Of Management Rohtak
Table Of Contents
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
1. GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
1.2 FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
1.3 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A JUVENILE AND A CHILD
2. EVOLUTION OF JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN INDIA
2.1 PRE-INDEPENDENCE ERA
2.3 JUDICIAL TRENDS
3. THE INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
4. MENTAL HEALTH AND THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
5. LIMITATIONS AND GAPS
6. CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS
Any person under the age of 18 is considered a juvenile or a minor under the Indian legal system governing juvenile justice. A kid who was in confrontation with the law, regardless of the type of offence committed, was compelled to spend a maximum of three years in institutional care prior to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Such a minor could not be subject to a sentence of imprisonment or a penalty of more than three years. Juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 who were involved in cases of heinous crimes juvenile justice proceedings were permitted to go as those of adults after the 2015 Act, which amended the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, went into effect on January 15, 2016. This research aims to examine the evolution of the Juvenile Justice Act in the country and further outline the international concerns related to it. Further, we have also facilitated a comparison between the Juvenile Justice System in India and other countries. We also discussed the psychological impact of the system in India and other limitations of the Juvenile Justice System.
Keywords: Juvenile, Delinquency, Justice, Mental Health, Psychology
With crimes happening every minute, every day, the debate that has caught momentum is related to not the crimes but who is actually doing it. It is well-acknowledged fact that criminals are not only adults. Several heinous offences have been committed by the juveniles. In fact, in the last few decades, the crime rates of children under the age of 16 have increased. However, the approach that India has towards the offenders is influenced by their age, leading to differential treatment. This differential treatment is not justified under the mere banner of a number called age. It takes into consideration what forms the part of the life of a juvenile at that point in time. Most justice systems have redefined juvenile offences as delinquent acts to be adjudicated within a separate juvenile justice system, designed to recognize the special needs and immature status of young people.
Juvenile justice is a legal system designed to safeguard and promote the human rights of all children and adolescents.
It is a branch of law that deals with minors or children who have been accused of crimes or who have been mistreated or abandoned by their parents or guardians. Adult criminal justice is less important to it than the rehabilitation of its charges. International standards highlight the necessity of both prevention and rehabilitation in the case of adolescents accused of crimes, often known as minors in confrontation with the law. "Every child alleged, accused, or recognised as having infringed the penal law has the right to be treated in a way consistent with the enhancement of the child's feeling of dignity and value," according to international norms. In India, juvenile justice policy is mostly guided by Article 15 of the Constitution, which ensures special attention to minors through required and unique laws and policies that protect their rights. The policy is also based on fundamental protections such as the right to equality, the right to life and personal liberty, and the right to be free from exploitation (enshrined in Articles 14, 15, 16, 21, 23 and 24). The Indian Constitution highlights the government's responsibility to protect children from exploitation and promote their well-being.
Review Of Literature
To study and understand the subject of research, the researcher has referred to various commentaries, books, articles, websites multilateral treaties, UN declarations of various countries relating to Juvenile Justice System along with various rules, policies and frameworks formed by several governmental bodies around the globe.
Child Protection and Juvenile Justice System for Juvenile in Conflict with Law
Juvenile legislation focuses on juvenile reform and rehabilitation so that they can have access to the same opportunities as other children their age. However, opposing viewpoints exist, with some claiming that juvenile criminals are committing violent crimes against society and that the juvenile justice system is coddling them. A child is an integral component of the society in which he or she lives. They are readily driven by what they see around them due to their immaturity. It has been noticed that their surroundings and social context trigger such behaviour. Juvenile legislation tries to solve the problem, but it hasn't been successful in identifying the source of the problem.
This book takes a look at children who have run afoul of the law and how they are treated in the juvenile court system. It examines not only juvenile justice law and its growth since the early twentieth century, but also the various obstacles that a juvenile face. The author also provides a step-by-step approach to lawfully assisting adolescents in a similar circumstance, as well as a few hypothetical cases.
Juvenile delinquency in India- Latest trends and Entailing Amendments in Juvenile Justice Act
Juvenile delinquency is a serious crime that has a negative impact on a country's social order. Juvenile crime is on the rise all throughout the world, with more and more young people becoming involved in violent crimes. India is experiencing a similar rise in the number of youths committing violent crimes. It is a severe concern for the country, and solutions to the matter must be addressed with great care. In response to these tendencies, the Indian legal system and court have made changes to the rules governing juvenile justice in India. The paper’s objective is to examine the reasons of juvenile delinquency as well as the explanations offered by experts from other professions to explain the problem. According to statistics data available on official websites, juveniles are becoming more involved in horrific crimes. To deal with the issue of juvenile delinquency in India, the Juvenile Delinquency Act was revised, and children accused of grave offences are now tried as adults.
Juvenile Justice System in India: An Overview
Juvenile delinquency, also known as child or juvenile delinquency, is an alarmingly growing problem that is raising concern around the world. Children should have been at the forefront of India's development planning, research, and welfare efforts, but this has not been the case. Despite the Constitution's ideal of a healthy and happy child protected from abuse and exploitation, as well as a National Policy for Children, the majority of children in India continue to be cared for, protected, and meaningful. To deal with their young criminals, almost every country has built a juvenile justice system. The situation for children in India has altered dramatically, and their difficulties and related issues are now being addressed and debated at numerous venues. adults.
Providing sufficient protection and care to such a large number of youngsters is a major task. Due to socioeconomic factors, a significant proportion of our youngsters have joined the ranks of delinquent children. The purpose of this paper is to examine the many reasons and difficulties associated with child delinquency, as well as approaches to address them, through the growth of various legislative frameworks established by the government over time.
Juvenile Justice in India: A Historical Outline
The widely accepted definition of a child, according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, is everyone under the age of 18. (UNCRC). Section 2 (k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 defines a "juvenile" as a person who has not reached the age of eighteen. Children are the country's future; therefore, it is our job and responsibility to guarantee that they live in a safe environment. In India, there has been a gradual increase in the rates of adolescent criminality. By focusing on the rules of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, 2000, 2014, and 2015, this study attempts to describe the growth of Juvenile Justice Legislation from British India to the contemporary democratic India. Despite the existence of such safety rule for such children, the number of juvenile criminals in the country is on the rise, which is a critical issue for the country. With so many concerns, India also has a lot of problems with juvenile justice. This article attempts to determine the causes and forms of juvenile crimes in our culture. Finally, by tracing the history of juvenile justice in India, several recommendations for juvenile crime prevention have been presented.
This research aims to study the current Juvenile Justice System in India. The current Juvenile Justice System in the country has evolved over the years, keeping in mind the problem of juvenile delinquency and the factors leading to it. The present study intends to focus on the various issues and problems related to juveniles, with special emphasis on the various legal principles that evolved over the years and to analyse its importance and factors relating to mental health and literacy among children. This analysis is carried forward with the help of a doctrinal approach.
The juvenile justice system was created with the needs of young offenders in mind. As a way of secondary prevention, rehabilitation, and increased socialisation, one of the main roles has been to provide specialised preventative and therapeutic services for children and young people. With the passage of time, the state's responsibility for children's welfare has passed to social groups and select philanthropic organisations. To raise public awareness of children's rights, the United Nations Organization designated 1979 as the "International Year of the Child," issuing a general appeal to all nations to review their programmes for children's welfare and mobilise support for programmes based on the country's conditions, needs, and priorities. Different authorities have differing viewpoints on the subject, as well as the kind of offences and behaviours that are included in juvenile delinquency. The concept of juvenile justice arose from the belief that the problem of juvenile delinquency, as well as related problems involving kids in unusual situations, are not simply susceptible to settlement through the regular criminal justice procedure. The juvenile justice system was created with the needs of young offenders in mind. As a way of secondary prevention, rehabilitation, and increased socialisation, one of the main roles has been to provide specialised preventative and therapeutic services for children and young people.
1.1 JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
Juvenile delinquents are those who have not yet reached the age of adulthood as defined by the law of the land and have acted in a way that is illegal. When done by adults, such banned behaviour consists mostly of activities that would be classified as criminal offences under the law. Because the child is a member of society, the social setting in which he or she lives is bound to influence the child's attitude and behaviour. Poverty, unemployment, violence exposure and experience, abuse, and injustices, and shifting values are all likely to have an impact on children's behaviour. Juvenile delinquency is caused by a complex mix of societal, economic, and human variables. Teen delinquency is influenced by a number of risk factors, including those related to the individual, the family, mental health, and substance abuse. Individual risk factors apply to the juvenile as a whole, including his or her physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Family risk factors are those that pertain to the juvenile's parents and other family members who are accountable for his or her
upbringing. They can include upbringing by relatives (in the absence of parents) who may or may not have an emotional bond to or offer adequate attention to the juvenile's needs. Mental health risk factors are those that are antecedents to specific mental health issues and are often manifested in delinquent behaviour in children. Risk factors for substance misuse are those that relate to having access to and abusing drugs and other illegal substances. It is important to note that the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 refers to “kid in dispute with the law” rather than “juvenile delinquent”.
1.2 FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
The degree and severity of juvenile offences are largely determined by the country's social, economic, and cultural factors. Like many other crimes, the causes of such behaviour are complex psychological, societal, and economic elements. Emotional and mental maladjustments resulting from disorganised family difficulties have been identified as a common cause of such behaviour in clinical research. Numerous facets of society, including the general population, social institutions, groups and organisations, and interpersonal interactions, might contribute to adolescent delinquency.
A juvenile delinquent is the result of an unhealthy environment that does not allow him to develop his faculties in accordance with social norms. Such behaviour is common in social environments when social norms have broken down and the regulations that prevent people from engaging in socially inappropriate behaviour have become irrelevant to certain members of society. As a result, they react to the traumatic and harmful changes in their environment by engaging in rebellious behaviour and criminal activity.
Social variables can also influence a child's decision to engage in delinquent behaviour. These influences include the behaviour of persons with whom the child interacts at a given age, such as parental negligence, favouritism, bullying, or cruelty, as well as the behaviour of school teachers and peers. This leads to feelings of inadequacy, dread of opening up, apprehension, and embarrassment at school, at home, and among friends. Delinquent behaviour can also be linked to a lack of education or low academic achievement. The current educational system and society place an excessive emphasis on children's intellectual development rather than their emotional and
mental well-being. This may lead to a disregard for societal expectations and associations with those who engage in criminal behaviour.
Socioeconomic background is another factor that influences delinquent behaviour. Low income is typically linked to socioeconomic instability, which can lead to young people engaging in criminal behaviour. In their complexity, today's evolving societies are dynamic and self-explanatory, with never-ending changes. People in those societies are frequently uprooted from their traditional communities and alienated when they lose access to their prior social support networks as a result of socioeconomic development and disasters.
The value of family and family history is becoming more widely recognised as a technique for diagnosing aberrant behaviour in children and adolescents. When opposed to children who are neglected by their parents and families, children who receive proper parental care and support are less likely to engage in deviant behaviour. Juvenile delinquency is intimately linked to a dysfunctional family environment, which includes insufficient parental care and support, weak internal linkage and integration, and early autonomy. Children from low-income homes who are at risk of social marginalisation are frequently portrayed as potential criminals. This has a bad effect on their attitude and thinking. A possible aspect is the criminalization of families. Families who engage in criminal activity encourage their children to do the same.
Thus, it is clear that the different potential causes of delinquent behaviour all have an impact on a child's psychology in one way or another. highlighting the significance of evaluating and caring for children's mental health who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.
1.3 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A JUVENILE AND A CHILD
A "child" is defined as a boy or a girl who has not yet turned sixteen or 18 years old in section 2(e) of the Children Act, 1960, which was in force from 1960 to 1986.
A "kid" is defined in subsection 12 of Section 2 of The Juvenile (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 as any person under the age of eighteen. The term "kid" is divided into two categories by the Act:
a youngster who is in violation of the law
a child who needs care and protection
The first category is "a child in conflict with the law," which includes any child as defined in Section 14 of the Act who is not charged with any offence and who was under the age of eighteen at the time of the offence. The second category is "a child in need of care and protection," which includes any child as defined in Section 14 of the Act who is not charged with any offence.
Although a child and a juvenile are almost same, there are certain distinctions between them based on their connotations and circumstances. Even though a youngster is just considered as an innocent person, the word "juvenile" has a bad reputation in the law. Child signifies innocence and youth, whereas juvenile connotes immaturity or a young offender. Simply put, a child who has been accused of a crime is referred to as a juvenile.
2. Evolution Of Juvenile Justice System In India
2.1 PRE-INDEPENDENCE ERA
Differential treatment for children can be traced back to the Code of Hammurabi in 1790 BC when the family was given duty for their care and maintenance. Lord Cornwallis founded the first centre for these youngsters, known as "Ragged School," in 1843, during the colonial administration. After 1850, the Apprentices Act was created, which was the first law that obliged youths aged 10 to 18 who had been condemned in court to get vocational training as part of their rehabilitation. The Reformatory School Act of 1876 and 1897 was another important piece of legislation. The court had the authority under the Act to imprison delinquents in a reformatory school for a period of two to seven years, but they were not to be retained in these institutions once they reached the age of eighteen. Furthermore, the Act of Criminal Procedure of 1898 gave minor offenders particular treatment. Offenders under the age of twenty-one were eligible for probation if they behaved well. The Indian Jail Committee then drafted the Indian Children Act (1919-1920). Individual provincial governments now have the authority to adopt distinct juvenile legislation in their areas as a result of this act. In 1920, 1922, and 1924, the provinces of Madras, Bengal, and Bombay each approved their own Children Acts. These statutes included provisions for the creation of a specialized mechanism for the treatment of juveniles.
The most significant piece of post-independence legislation was the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 (the "Act"), which brought the nation into compliance with the Child Rights Convention of 1989. Under this law, everyone under the age of 18 was regarded as a child, and they were never permitted to stand trial as adults. After the "Nirbhaya Delhi Gang Rape Case," an incident that shook the entire nation on December 16, 2012, this section caused controversy in India. Because one of the accused was just six months away from turning 18, it not only outraged and disgusted the country, but it also raised concerns about the applicability of the law to the field of juvenile justice. The Indian Parliament passed the "Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015" as a result of a person under the age of 18 being involved in such a terrible crime as rape. The prior juvenile statutes were repealed by this Act, along with some other significant changes. The most significant change was that if a minor between the ages of 16 and 18 was charged with a serious offence, they would be prosecuted as adults. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, which was passed by the Legislature in conjunction with this historic change, was a direct result of the national debate over the Nirbhaya incident.
2.3 JUDICIAL TRENDS
Children are a valuable resource for the country, making the role of the court in protecting their rights crucial. The court's main responsibility is to protect the rights and facilities that citizens have access to for their wellbeing and the advancement of society. When it comes to the care and protection of children, the Supreme Court has done an amazing job. Highlights from some cases demonstrate the judiciary's position on children's welfare. In a ruling in the case of Bachpan Bachao Andolan v. Union of India, the Supreme Court stated through J.M.B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta that calamities should receive special attention.
All types of children will benefit from the legislation on child care and protection, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Re-Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in the State of
Tamil Nadu v. Union of India. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015's term of "child in need of care and protection," according to the court, should be interpreted as broadly as possible. The court also issues directives to safeguard children's rights.
The Supreme Court in the case of Re-Exploitation of Children in orphanages in the State of Tamil Nadu v. Union of India the legislation on child care and protection shall be benefited all categories of children. The court said that the definition of the expression “child in need of care and protection” in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 should be interpreted as exhaustive as possible. Guidelines are also issued by the court to protect the rights of children.
In the case of Gaurav Jain v. Union of India, the Supreme Court said that children have the right to equality of opportunity, care and dignity, rehabilitation and protection from society with both hands. In the case of Lakshmikant Pandey v. State, observed that a child has a right to be loved. He also has a right of moral and material security.”
In the case of Kakoo v. State of Andhra Pradesh, a boy of 13 years had committed rape on a girl child of 2 years. Deducting the sentence Justice Sarkaria observed that long-term imprisonment is sure to turn Juvenile delinquents into criminals and laid an emphasis that in the case of child offenders, penological trends command a more humanitarian approach.
The Supreme Court stated in the case of Raisul v. the State of UP that a person under the age of 18 should not be given the death punishment. The juvenile criminal is uniquely protected by the law under section 12 of the act for the reason that his age has to be provided, it was observed in the case of Rahul Mishra V. State of Madhya Pradesh. Prima facie, it appears that he is guilty. One of the defendants in the Delhi gang rape case, which was heard in December 2012, was a minor, and despite committing such a horrible crime, he was not treated as an adult. After being found guilty by the Juvenile Justice Board, he was placed in a special home for three years before being released to roam free in society. This is the irony of
our law. In the case of Mohammad Feroz Bhola v. State, the court noted that granting bail to a child is not an act of mercy but rather a mandate for the child. The court additionally noted that, absent compelling circumstances, section 12 of the act must be followed. The aforementioned case studies illustrate a pattern of judicial behaviour in India's juvenile justice system.
It demonstrates how the Indian judicial system has begun to support the rights of the common citizen. The Indian judicial system is increasingly acting as a partner and facilitator in improving juvenile justice throughout the nation. The judiciary is actively working to ensure the welfare of children in the nation within the parameters of the juvenile justice laws and the scope of the constitution. The strategy is to help and guide delinquents to fast exit their youthful follies and to gradually turn into responsible people in the future, rather than tormenting them with the fear of consequences.
The International Perspective
Though the concept of juvenile justice was not given much weight until the late nineteenth century, it has since grown into the area of law with the most legislation and international treaties. The worldwide juvenile justice system concentrates on juvenile offences and has provisions in place to protect adolescents' interests against legal abuse. Many countries have established safeguards within their legal system to preserve the interests of juveniles as concerns about child protection and rights have grown.
Some of the international covenants governing the international juvenile system are as follows:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 states - “5. Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.”
The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 also known as the Beijing Rules, was adopted on 29 November 1985 for protecting the well-being of children.
The United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, 1990 also known as the Havana rules, lays down the standard for the management of the juvenile justice system.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989 provides for the protection of children by ensuring the rights available to them.
The United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, 1990 also known as the Riyadh guidelines, provides for the prevention of juvenile delinquency.
The United Nations Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System, 1997 also known as the Vienna guidelines, were adopted for the protection of children and it was addressed not only to the states, but also NGO's and media.
The International Juvenile Justice Observatory was formed in Brussels in 2002, to encourage global juvenile justice and to tackle the issues relating to juvenile delinquency and justice issues.
As a result, the aforementioned international treaties have taken the necessary steps to secure the protection and welfare of children, and countries are compelled to enact legislation that corresponds with these principles and directives.
India's juvenile justice system is based on the Constitution. Various international Covenants, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Juvenile Justice Administration, as well as Articles 15 (3), 21, 24, 39 (e) and (f), 45, and 47 of the Constitution (Beijing Rules). The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes provisions to protect the rights of young offenders, was adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1989. By stipulating that no legal actions or court trials will be taken against minors, the pact also guards against their social degeneration. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000, which is significantly more improved upon and reformed than the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986, was forced into existence by this convention. In addition, the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 went into effect, replacing the outdated Children Act of 1960 in order to put into practise the Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1985.
Mental Health And The Juvenile Justice System
Children in conflict law have a link between their mental health and their delinquent behaviour. This could be because they have similar biopsychological vulnerabilities, or because one illness exacerbates the other. Failure to resolve or prevent these interconnected issues may result in repeat offences. As a result, it is critical to address and acknowledge such children's mental health, as well as other connected difficulties. Apart from their advising function in the juvenile justice system, mental health experts can make a substantial contribution to this process on the prevention, therapeutic, and rehabilitative fronts.
In 1986, India passed the Juvenile Justice Act, which made it illegal to send minors in dispute with the law to prison under any circumstances. India later ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by passing the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which incorporated the convention's provisions for the protection of children in conflict with the law and children in need of care and protection.
The Act takes a child-friendly approach to adjudication and resolution of cases in order to ensure proper care, protection, and treatment for children while also adapting to their developmental requirements. It also requires the establishment of numerous institutions for the ultimate rehabilitation of children.
In addition, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 defines a child in need of care and protection as a person "who is mentally ill, mentally or physically challenged, or suffering from a terminal disease and has no support system (parents or guardians) if found so by the Juvenile Justice Board (Board) or the Child Welfare Committee (CWC)."
As a result, the Act mandates that no social worker may be nominated to the Juvenile Justice Board or the Child Welfare Committee unless they have prior educational experience or are already employed professionals with a degree in child psychology, psychiatry, sociology, or law. According to the Act, a preliminary evaluation of a minor's mental and physical capacity must be requested if they are between the ages of 16 and 18 and are suspected of committing a heinous crime. The Board will consult with knowledgeable psychologists, psychosocial workers, or other experts in the field. It has been found that younger children who interact with the legal system are more prone than older children to experience mental health issues. Because mental health specialists are usually relied upon as experts in such situations, their involvement becomes even more critical, particularly when such cases are publicised and the court process is likely to be impacted by such considerations.
The JJ Act is built around rehabilitative and reintegrative services. It requires child care establishments to provide mental health and addiction treatment for the youngsters. The Act also stipulates that, if necessary, a child may be sent to a mental health facility or a delinquency centre for treatment. What is required is the creation of a comprehensive post-discharge plan to ensure
continuity of care and to prevent the psychological or behavioural problem from deteriorating, as the case may be.
Although there are significant gaps between practise and policy for juveniles who break the law, India has made a promising start by enacting progressive legislation, particularly the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, and the community can help this vulnerable and difficult population have a better present and future.
The Juvenile Justice Act mandates that children's mental health and well-being be prioritised; yet, this rule does not appear to be followed in practise. Lack of understanding of mental health concerns, as well as the stigma associated with them, is a barrier to early intervention. As a result, the juvenile will delay seeking help until he or she comes into touch with the juvenile justice system. It is critical to raise mental health awareness.
Limitations And Gaps
After a juvenile criminal in a 2012 Delhi gang rape case was 'merely' sentenced to three years in a reform home, the 2015 Act was presented in Parliament in 2014 amid widespread public indignation. The Act's Statement of Objects and Reasons cited a number of reasons why changes to the existing legislation were needed, including delays in decision-making by Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards, a high backlog of cases, an increase in incidents of child abuse in care institutions, and insufficient facilities, poor quality of care, and rehabilitation measures in these institutions. It was also emphasised that there has been an alleged increase in the number of crimes perpetrated by adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18, especially in heinous offences.
Furthermore, the necessity of forcing juvenile criminals into the adult criminal justice system appears irrational, given that Section 16 of the 2000 Act already included a framework for dealing with adolescents aged 16 to 18 who had committed significant offences. The 2000 Act contained
reprimand, community service, a fine, probation, and group counselling as well as other dispositions with significant possibility for reparation, healing, and reformation.
The mechanism for the Juvenile Justice Boards to conduct a preliminary investigation. It was deemed not only arbitrary in character, but also incompatible with Clause 3 of the Act's premise of 'presumption of innocence' of any mala fide or illegal intent of a child under the age of 18. Furthermore, the JJB members' capacity and sensitivity to undertake such an investigation without having received training in child psychology is a source of worry. To address this concern, Section 4 (3) of the Act does state, “No social worker shall be appointed as a member of the Board unless such person has been actively involved in health, education, or welfare activities pertaining to children for at least seven years or a practising professional with a degree in child psychology, psychiatry, sociology or law”.
However, it is ultimately determined that the issue is not with the preceding Act's provisions, but rather with their implementation. In numerous jurisdictions, care institutions that were to be established under the 2000 Act were either not established or were not operational. Even when they were operational, they had challenges due to insufficient funding, weak cadre training, and a lack of individual care plans.
Conclusion And Suggestions
A significant issue facing our society is the alarming growth of juvenile crime. Numerous instances of juvenile delinquency have come in from all throughout the nation. Juvenile delinquency is the term used to describe a crime committed by a minor under the age of 18. Although the government has established a number of legislations in an effort to lower teenage crime, these remain insufficient. The current laws have had ineffectual results since they didn't work to dissuade young people from breaking the law. The goal of the authorities and the burning desire of society should be to reform the juveniles themselves, not to improve the juvenile justice system.
There should be a uniform curriculum for those who work with juveniles who have been charged with a crime. They should be aware of the psychological and biological needs of children in need of care, as well as the protection of children who are in violation of the law.
Children's facilities should assure proper functioning, the availability of skilled mental health specialists on staff, and compliance with current laws. Any loss should be held accountable and answerable to the childcare institution and its authority.
In the Juvenile Court, there should be a trained judge who can recognise the educational, social, and treatment needs of children in crisis.
Children should be exposed to training and counselling sessions so that they can develop their interests and skills in order to find work and support themselves.
Orientation classes, seminars, and awareness programmes on psychological and socio-cultural factors of delinquent behaviour, as well as the link between delinquent behaviour and mental health difficulties, should be held.
Although it is possible that adolescents with malicious intent who are aware that being underage absolves them of harsh consequences of their conduct may continue to commit crimes unabated without fear of repercussions, it is important to recognise the uniqueness of each case of juvenile delinquency. It should be highlighted that children accused of committing terrible crimes are not protected under Section 3 of the 2015 Act's "concept of a new start," which allows the trial record to be deleted. Furthermore, while Section 24 of the Act exempts juvenile offenders from any disqualification that may be imposed under any law for committing an offence under this law,
the same protection does not apply to children above the age of sixteen who have committed horrific crimes. This means that legal disqualifications would apply to them indefinitely, which is incompatible with the notion of a fresh start and the principles of rehabilitative justice.
Given that children are more receptive to rehabilitation than adults, they should be given the opportunity to re-start and re-orient their lives with a clean slate rather than being forced into a cycle of crime and jail. Therefore, the foundation of India's juvenile justice system needs to be constructed with a careful balance between punishment, deterrent, and rehabilitation.
United Nations Documents
- United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty
- United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice
- The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989
- The United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, 1990
- The United Nations Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System, 1997
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