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Crime rate is day by day increasing in India and the most shocking trend that can be noticed is that it is upheaving among Juveniles too. Criminal cases of all sorts ranging from thefts to murder or smuggling to sexual crimes are committed by them. Juvenile are humans below the age of 18. We are constantly reminded that there are problems with juvenile violence. Nightly we hear of shootings in communities and even in our schools. Increasing levels of juvenile violence are a national concern. The concern has focused on punishment, but very little on prevention or intervention.

The future of our world depends on responsible citizens who possess the ability to express and resolve conflicts while working together for civic improvement. Juvenile Justice Act is basically for the protection, treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile who committed a crime due to some influential factors. They are sent to Juvenile homes where many services are provided such as health, education or vocational training so that they could live a healthy life when completed with punishment year.


As we know that Children, are the future pillar to the Indian Society, they play an important role in structuring the future of our nation. They act as a concrete pillar withholding the future of our nation. Therefore, we require rules, regulations and laws to govern the actions and to safeguard the rights of the children with an equal opportunity for all around development, so that they become a successful citizen, who shall be mentally, morally, physically and possess a healthy progress towards the society.

Primarily, the parents hold the utmost responsibility to provide good care and strong start in life by ensuring they get proper attention, care and protection in event leading to exploitation or abuses of the children. Secondly, the government holds the responsibility to protect and care the neglected children in the society. The duty of the government arises, when the parents of the children fails to provide the required care, shelter and protection, then the government can intervene as enumerate under “parens patriae” which means the government holding necessary action of care and protection towards the neglected children for their rehabilitation in the society.

They are called as „Child‟1because of the immatureness, age, weak Physique, tender, emotional instability and inability to take care of themselves. Hence, they require proper care either by parents, guardians or by the state, in order to sculpt their personality into a perfect person. They are also protected constitutionally under Articles 39(e)(f), 41, 42, 45, and 47, as well as under the enforcement of basic human rights under Articles 14, 15(3), 17, 21, 23, and 24, can go a long way toward transforming a large number of neglected children into useful and productive members of society. In the field of juvenile justice, the true accomplishment of social justice consists in balancing the scales in respect to neglected children.[1]


Juvenile Justice System: Its Meaning

There are no fixed parameters to define juvenile justice system. Broadly it means a system which administers justice to children. This system may be divided into two: the formal system and the informal system. The formal system comprises of the Legislature, executive and the judiciary. The role of the Legislature is to make law for the juveniles and see that the direction of the law is in such a way that the delinquent, neglected and child at risk are reformed, protected and rehabilitated.

If the law makers provide harsher treatment, it will not do justice; on the contrary it will make the delinquent juvenile 'a dangerous criminal the second limb is the Executives who have to implement legal justice or law justice. They are the implementators of law.


Howsoever a law may be responsive to protect the interest of the juveniles it will remain on paper unless the executive makes a responsive and forward-looking move. It may be pointed out that the fate of the detailed provisions of the 1986 and 2015 legislations, in this regard is not very happy one.

The third and the most important part of the system is the judiciary, including the juvenile court or board. It is this component which administers juvenile justice. The judicial authority hears both the sides the accused juvenile and the prosecuting agency and then decides what treatment be given to the juvenile who may be adjudged to be guilty. [2]

The judiciary is normally required to deliver justice within the parameters prescribed by law. What shall be the quantum of justice will depend on the persons who man the court or board. There are at time the judicial officers who apply their own discretion in administering justice.

Here comes the role of individual member of the judicial body. No fixed criteria is there about their discretionary powers but one main rider is it should not be an arbitrary exercise of the power, otherwise it will be set aside. Normally when one looks to the administration of juvenile justice in action, he will find that the judges and judicial officers have adopted approaches which will instead of 'Killing the delinquent juveniles', try to reform and rehabilitate them.[3]


According to the conduct and behaviour of a juvenile, the juveniles are divided into various categories:


Types of Juveniles

Innocent juvenile

A child under 12 years of age, having no capacity to form mens ria, does not attract any criminal responsibility. They are sent back to parental care or to the care of the children's home. It may be pointed out that as at this age child is exempted from criminal liability, the criminals, for their selfish end, are exploiting such children to commit crimes for them.


Delinquent juvenile

A juvenile between the age of 12 to 18 years who commits a crime, is known as a delinquent juvenile. Even though he has committed a crime, he is still a child and therefore, has to face a special procedure to establish his innocence. This approach is adopted so that at this early age he is not branded as a criminal.


The delinquent juvenile is further divided into:

  1. Juvenile involved in crime

The criminal law declares many acts as crimes which include bodily injury, homicide, murder, injury to property-theft, robbery, dacoity, rape, assault, trespass, criminal misappropriation, fraud etc.

  1. Juvenile involved in an offence

A statute prohibits certain activities and makes it an offence subject to punishment in case of violation of the limitation. The traffic law, the drug law, the liquor law. the tobacco law or the immoral and indecent action law, etc impose ban on certain activities. A juvenile who commits an offence under such law is also known as status offenders.[4]


  1. Juvenile in conflict with Family or societal norms

A juvenile. keeping bad company roaming on streets at night. Defying parents, indulging in immoral and indecent activities at home or outside and violating the set standards of family and society is known as a juvenile in conflict with family or societal norms.

  1. Juvenile victimized

Juveniles are some times also victims of crime. The criminal or bad company takes advantage of the minors and forces them to commit crimes. In such case the juveniles are put under threat or are lured into a trap so that they do helplessly what the criminal or a perpetrator wants.

  1. Child in need of care

A child below the age of 18 years who needs special care is termed as a "child in need of care and protection. Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act, 2015 gives a detailed meaning of such a child. It defines such a child as one who is without any home, lives in a home where his life is threatened mentally or physically challenged or child or child suffering from terminal or incurable disease having no one to support our look after him. whose parents are unfit or incapacitated to exercise control over the child; has no parents or no one to take care of him; has been abandoned or missing or a runaway child: is likely to be grossly abused, tortured or exploited for the purpose of sexual abuse or illegal act: is found vulnerable and is at risk for drug abuse or trafficking; or is likely to be abused for unconscionably gains; and finally is a victim of any armed conflict, civil commotion or natural calamity.[5]


Juvenile Crimes in Idia

Several petty and heinous crimes are being committed regularly in India such as theft, burglary, snatching, robbery, dacoity, murder and rape etc. in whole of the country. And the unfortunate thing is that all types of these crimes are also being committed by children below the age of 18 years.


Among juveniles also there is a specific trend that juveniles between the age of 16 to 18 years are found to be more involved in heinous criminal acts. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the data of 2013 shows that of the 43,506 crimes registered against minors under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Special Local Law (SLL) by juveniles, 28,830 had been committed by those between the ages of 16 to 18. The statistics also show the number of juveniles found to be in conflict with law under the IPC and the SLL has risen 13.6% and 2.5% respectively in 2013, as compared with 2012.

Recently, the inhuman gang rape of a young girl was committed on December 16, 2013.This act was most brutal which shocked the collective conscience of the nation. It was later found out that among five accused, one was minor and he was the most barbaric one. Again, in another brutal gang rape case which is known as Shakti Mill Rape case, a minor was involved. These and several more recent events have triggered a public debate that the present Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 which treats persons below the age of 18 years as minor or juvenile, should be amended.


Law relating to juvenile crimes

In India, the first legislation dealing with juvenile crimes was the Apprentices Act, 1850 which provided that children under the age of 15 years found to have committed petty offences will be bounded as apprentices. Thereafter, the Reformatory Schools Act, 1897 came into effect which provided that children up to the age of 15 years sentenced to imprisonment would be sent to reformatory cell.


After the Independence, with an aim to provide care, protection, development and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles, our Parliament enacted the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986. It was an Act which brought uniform system throughout the country.


Section 2(a) of the Act defined the term ‘juvenile’ as a “boy who has not attained the age of 16 years and a girl who has not attained the age of 18 years”.


Later on, the Parliament enacted the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 which raised the age bar to 18 years for both girl and boy. According to this act a juvenile can be detained only for a maximum period of 3 years irrespective of the gravity of offence committed by him. It provides immunity to the child who is less than 18 Years of age at the time of the commission of the alleged offence from trial through Criminal Court or any punishment under Criminal Law in view of Section 17 of the Act.


The purpose of this new Act was to rehabilitate the child and assimilate him/her in mainstream society. The rationale is that a child still has the possibility of getting reformed due to his/her tender age and lack of maturity and it is the responsibility of the State to protect and reform the child.


  • Proposed Amendment in Juvenile Justice Act, 2000:

Recently due to major hue and cry in public against the increasing number of crimes being committed by the juveniles, the Government has decided to present the proposed amendment in law in the current Parliament itself. This amendment would have far reaching effects on our criminal justice system.


In brief major changes are as follows:

  • The proposed legislation would be replacing the existing Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection)

Act 2000.

  • It has clearly defined and classified offences as petty, serious and heinous.
  • It has been noticed that the increasing number of serious offences being committed by juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years. Thus, in recognition of the rights of the victims alongside the rights of juveniles, it is proposed that such heinous offences should be dealt with in special manner.
  • Therefore, it has been proposed that if a heinous crime is committed by a person in the age group of 16 to18 years, the Juvenile Justice Board will first assess if the said crime was committed by that person as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult’.
  • The Juvenile Justice Board will have psychologists and social experts in it which would make

sure that the rights of the juvenile are duly protected if the crime was committed as a child.

  • The trial of the case shall proceed on the basis of Board’s assessment report that whether the

concerned juvenile has committed the crime as a child or as an adult.



The causes of juvenile delinquency may be classified under two major factors:

  1. Social factors, and
  2. Personality factors.


  1. Social Factors
    1. Broken Homes:

In one of the studies conducted by Uday Shankar in India 13.3% of the 140 delinquents came from broken homes. The home may be broken up by death of one or both of the parents, or by prolonged illness or insanity, desertion or divorce. Interaction in home is a very important means for socialising the child. The mother plays vital role in this regard. If she divorces her husband or deserts him or dies, the growth of the child will be affected. Such a child loses not only mother’s love but also parental control and becomes an easy victim to the outside anti-societal influence. It cannot, however, be said that broken home invariably leads to delinquent behaviour on the part of the children.


    1. Poverty:

A very large proportion of delinquent children come from poor homes. They commit their offences as member of gangs. Uday Shankar’s study has revealed that as many as 83% of the children come from poor families. Poverty compels sometimes both of the parents to be outside the home for a very long period to earn their daily bread. The children will be uncared for. Such children may consciously or uncon-sciously join hands with gangsters and become delinquents. This mostly happens in slum areas and areas in which mostly working-class people live.


    1. Companions and Gangs:

As the child grows older he goes into the neighbourhood and becomes a member of the playgroup or peer group. If by chance he joins the group or the gang that fosters delinquent attitudes he is also likely to become a delinquent. Offences are also committed by the adolescents due to bad companionship. Studies have shown that delinquent acts are done in company. In his Illinois Crime Survey of 1928 Shaw analysed 6000 boys were involved in the crime. He found that in 90% of the cases two or more boys were involved in the crime. But in Uday Shankar’s study in India only 23% of persons committed delinquent acts due to bad company. It cannot, however, be presumed that mere companionship by itself causes delinquency.


    1. Beggary:

Beggary is often the cause of juvenile delinquency. Child beggars mostly come from either very poor families or broken homes. These children are betrayed of the needed love and affection of the parents. They realise that only through deviant practices, they can satisfy their desires and meet their needs. They thus become delinquents.

  1. Personal or Individual Factors:

Personal factors such as mental deficiency and emotional disturbances may also contribute to juvenile delinquency.


    1. Mental Deficiency in Delinquency:

It has been observed that good number of delinquents is mentally deficient. Studies have revealed that there is larger proportion of mentally defectives in children. It is quite natural to assume that the dull and mentally handicapped or defective adolescents do not have the necessary insight to make distinctions between ‘right’ and ‘deviant’ methods and behaviour.’ Such children are often used by the more intelligent children of the gang or the adults for their criminal purpose.



    1. Emotional Problems of the Individual:

Mental troubles and emotional maladjustments are strong factors in delinquency. Emotional problems of inferiority and jealousy are very common among the delinquent children. Thus, from the psychological point of view “Delinquency is a rebellion and an expression ofaggression which is aimed at destroying, breaking down or changing the environment”. This rebellion is mostly against the social conditions which deny the individual his basic rights and the satisfaction of his fundamental needs. Thus, delinquents are not born so, but they become so due to social circumstances and personal deficiencies. They are mostly emotionally maladjusted children who become delinquents to get the attention of their parents or as a protest against their treatment.


Judicial Analysis: Juvenile in Conflict with law

In Vijendra Kumar Mali v. State of U.P. [6]the Allahabad High Court whilst dealing with the subject of a subordinate court having refused bail to a juvenile on the ground that the offence was a serious one, observed;

"This court in a number of judgments has categorically held that bail to the juvenile can only be refused if any one of the grounds existed. So far as the ground of gravity is concerned, it is not covered under the above provisions of the Act. If the bail application of the juvenile was to be considered under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, there would have been absolutely no necessity for the enactment of the aforesaid Act. The language of section 12 of the Act itself lays down that notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or in any other law for the time being in force, the juvenile accused shall be released."


In Dattatray G. Sankhe v. State of Maharashtra & Or’s.[7] a juvenile was released on bail on the condition that he report to the Juvenile Justice Board once a week till charge-sheet is filed, and thereafter once in two weeks. The Bombay High Court whilst passing this judgment dealt with the granting of bail under juvenile legislation:


" From the perusal of the said section it is clear that in case it is found that the juvenile is involved in any criminal offence, the normal rule would be to grant bail and the Board is empowered to release the juvenile on bail unless it comes to the conclusion that by releasing such a person on bail, he would come in contact with known criminals or that his life is likely to be in danger. This particular provision is made to ensure that large number of juvenile delinquents who do not have a regular place of residence or a family or abode are not brought to the mercy of known criminals and are as a result exploited by these criminals for their own ends.”


In Abhay Kumar Singh v. State of Jharkhand[8] the Petitioner, a juvenile, had spent three years eight months in detention. He was ordered to be forthwith released on bail without executing any bond or furnishing surety. It was further directed that Abhay Kumar Singh's inquiry under the Juvenile Justice Act 1986 be completed within 3 months, and if not so completed, the criminal proceedings against him should automatically stand quashed.



Juvenile Delinquency and the problems related to it have been faced by all societies, all over the world, however, in the developing world the problems are all the more formidable. The process of development has brought in its wake a socio-cultural upheaval affecting the age-old traditional ways of life in the congenial rural milieu. Juveniles are adversely affected by changing conditions. At the same time, the traditional social control system that served as a preventive check against any antisocial activity is gradually giving way. Consequently, the problem of juvenile deviance and antisocial propensities is rearing its ugly head – a situation that needs to be checked.


Separate rules must be made according to a kind of crime. Such as in case of thefts, smuggling or any small level of crime, guilty should be pushed in Rehabilitation Centre for its grooming while serious assaults like brutal rape must be handled differently. An exception could also be made especially for this crime that they’ll be punished the same as adults because it’s height of crime cannot be ignored.






At present there are large numbers of people in the society who are demanding that juveniles in the age group of 16 to 18 years should be treated as adult as far as their conviction in heinous crimes such as rape, gang rape, murder, dacoity etc. is concerned. The reason is that in several of the recent incidents as described above, it has been found that the juveniles of 16-18 age group are involved in serious crimes and they are doing such criminal acts with full knowledge and maturity.

The maturity level of children has not remained the same as 10-20 years ago, a child gets mental maturity early in present socio-cultural environment due to the influence of Internet and Social Media.

Therefore, to have a deterrent effect it is important that such offenders in the age group of 16 to 18 should be punished as adults so that victims’ could also get their justice.Also, this view says that it is not only the responsibility of the child that he/she has committed such heinous crimes but it is also the responsibility of the society that why society has not been able to provide a proper and healthy childhood to the child and why such types of discriminations and deprivations, both social and economic, were there that the child was forced to commit crimes; also, why the State failed to provide care and protection to its children and let them drift towards criminal activities.


Thus, it can be seen that there are strong views in both far and opposition of the change or amendment in Juvenile Justice Act.




  1. Vaishali Rathore, An Insight into Indian Juvenile Justice System, Notion Press.Com
  2. Pradheepa P and K Murlidharan. Juvenile delinquency – a socioeconomic and family perspective. Soc Welfare. 2005; 51
  3. Dr. Sunil K. Bhattacharya, Juvenile delinquency-An Indian Scenario



Online resources

[1]. http://www.cili.in/article/viewFile/1553/1139

[2]. http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/hrj/iss21/155-166.pdf

[3]. http://newsx.com/story/52379

[4]. http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1031/Juvenile-Justice-System-&-its-Delinquency-in-


[5]. http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/518/Juvenile-Delinquency.html

[6]. http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/219/The-Rights-Of-Children-in-India.html


[7]. http://www.indiacelebrating.com/social-issues/juvenile-crimes/

[8]. http://www.shareyouressays.com/87252/essay-on-the-causes-of-juvenile-delinquency



[1] According to the Act, a child in “conflict with law” is a child who is alleged or found to have committed an offence and who has not completed eighteen years of age, and is above the age of ten years, on the date of commission of such an offence


[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid (4).

[5] Ibid (4)

[6] Vijendra Kumar Mali v state of U.P,2003 criLJ 46199 (ALLAHABAD)

[7] Dattatray G. Sankhe v State of Maharashtra & ors,2003AIIMR(Cri)1693 (BOMBAY)

[8] Abhay Kumar Singh v State of Jharkhand,2004 CriLJ 4533


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