Juvenile Homes In India: Their Condition And Reformation
AUTHORED By – Harshit Mangla And Jayaram Garapati
L.L.M, Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University
Every juvenile justice system seeks to reform juveniles through correctional measures in government or non-governmental institutions which are known in legal parlance by various names such as shelter homes, observation homes, special homes, Juvenile homes, places of safety, etc., depending on the purpose for which they are used. However, the harsh truth is that juveniles are tortured, beaten, abused, starved, and forced to live in deplorable circumstances worse than animals at these places. They either transform young delinquents into victims of heinous crimes or compel them to become hardened criminals.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 was repealed due to a variety of issues, including an increase in child abuse incidents in institutions; insufficient facilities; low-quality care and rehabilitation procedures in children’s homes; adoption delays; and a shortage of educated, skilled, and accountable personnel. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, a new law governing juvenile justice in India, outlines a new approach to addressing juvenile crime prevention and treatment, as well as establishing guidelines for the treatment and rehabilitation of children whose cases fall under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system. In 2015, the JJ Act was re-enacted. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act of 2021 has amended the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 by expanding the District Magistrate`s powers and authority. In this article, we will discuss recent advances in juvenile justice law, the condition of juvenile homes, and their reformation, as well as a better prospective outcome.
The majority of juvenile delinquency is the result of social and economic adjustment problems.The situations that led to a juvenile committing a crime define the type of crime that he or she commits. Every juvenile justice system aims that the juveniles must be reformed through correctional measures in government or non-governmental institutions which in legal parlance are known under different names such as shelter homes, observation home, special homes, Juvenile homes and place of safety etc., depending on the purpose they are being used. However, the harsh reality is that juveniles suffer from torture, beating, abuses, hunger, unhygienic living conditions and are forced to live in miserable conditions worse than animals in these homes. To avoid these hardships, they usually run away and turn more aggressive. The fundamental purpose of establishment of juvenile homes is defeated. Either they turn juvenile delinquents into victims of heinous crimes or force them to become hardened criminals.
A “juvenile” means a child below the age of eighteen years but now a child between 16 to 18 years of age can also be tried as an adult after preliminary assessment of board if the Children Court is satisfied with the same. Though this provision was added to punish heinous juvenile offenders but the pathetic condition of such juveniles also cannot be ignored.
Evolution Of The JJ ACT
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 was overturned due to a variety of issues, including an increase in child abuse instances; inadequate facilities; poor quality of care and rehabilitation in children’s homes; adoption complications; shortage of educated, skilled, and accountable personnel. A new law governing juvenile justice in India, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, outlines a new approach to addressing juvenile crime
and treatment, as well as establishing guidelines for the care and rehabilitation of children whose cases are handled by the juvenile justice system. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985; the Beijing Rules, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption, 1993; and the U.N Rules for the Safeguard of Juveniles Deprived of Their Rights, 1990 were all taken into consideration when the JJ Act was re-enacted in 2015. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act of 2021 has amended the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 by expanding the District Magistrate’s powers and authority.
Children Homes And Childcare Institutions
In accordance with the JJ Act, the state government has built several children’s homes in each district, either on their own or in partnership with nongovernmental or charitable groups, to provide care and safety for these children. The JJ Act provides especially for child care facilities, which include, “children’s homes, open shelters, observation homes, special homes, places of safety, and adoption agencies with specialized adoption training”.
According to the national statistics, 66.4 percent (6368) of the total Homes (9589 Homes) are Children Homes, 3.9 percent are Shelter Homes, 3.5 percent are Specialised Adoption Agency, 2.9 percent are Observation Homes, 0.5 percent are Special Homes, 1.9 percent Swadhar Homes, 1 percent Ujjawala, 1 percent Place of Safety, and 0.1 percent are Combination Homes. The remaining 19.5% of homes (1869) are classified as “Other Homes,” which includes all CCIs/Homes that ought to have been registered under the JJ Act but aren’t and are running as though they were under the Orphanages and Charitable Institutions Act, the Women and Child Licensing Act, or as Cottage Homes. Only 9% of the CCIs/Homes examined are sponsored by the government, while 91% are run and managed by non-governmental organisations.
These juvenile homes care for children who are homeless, trafficked, orphaned, abandoned, sexually exploited, victims of child pornography, victims of trafficking for domestic work, trafficked for labor/rescued from labour, trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, victims of child marriage, affected by HIV/AIDS, affected by natural calamities as well as man-made catastrophes and dispute, and survivors of trafficking for household labor. Broken families, absence of parental protection and care, migration, a lack of family ties, divorce, and parental separation are a few of the problems that lead to a child’s life being disrupted, and they are forced to live in juvenile homes. According to research by the “Empowerment of Children and Human Rights Organization” (ECHO), around 89% of them come from a disadvantaged economic background.
Juvenile Homes- India’s Hell Holes
On paper, juvenile homes are excellent places to reform juveniles and reintegrate them into society, but the reality is far from ideal. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) performed an audit of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in 2020 and discovered that, despite the 2015 amendment, 39% of CCIs operated by NGOs were not registered. In other states, fewer than 20% of CCIs, notably for girls, had not been established, and 26% of child welfare officials were absent. In addition, three-fifths lack bathrooms, one-tenth lack water supply, and fifteen percent lack separate beds and food programs. Rehabilitating children is not a priority for child care institutions, and children are allegedly held in these institutions to generate revenue.
As a result of overcrowding, juvenile homes are referred to as ‘pilla jails. Prisoners are subjected to sexual assault and exploitation, as well as torture and ill-treatment, and brutality by other inmates in addition to being forced to live in inhumane circumstances at such juvenile justice homes. Girls continue to be the most vulnerable since they are the most susceptible to sexual assault. Numerous juvenile facilities fail to provide children with even the most basic services. In stark contrast to the grandiose aims established by the Indian government in the Juvenile Justice
Act, “the lives of children are sometimes more deplorable than the home environment from which they fled and than life on the streets. In their current form, these observation houses are the last location where juveniles may be reformed and are not less than India’s hell holes”.
Juvenile Homes And Reformatory Measures
A tremendous issue in India is the disparity between our laws and policies on paper and their execution. The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) is India’s primary child protection strategy, but despite its excellent intentions, its implementation faces various challenges.
The situation is exacerbated by the lack of current data and the involvement of several stakeholders. Introducing the programmes alone is not a reformative action. There should be procedures for monitoring the execution of schemes. Monthly publication of the whole operation of these programmes may be one option, but newspapers and the general public would serve as a more effective watchdog for their execution.
In addition, observation houses should undergo regular inspections so that their performance may be graded and ranked. As a method of reducing incidences of violence in juvenile homes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) specializing in child care and protection should be tasked with implementing various programmes such as dance, aerobics, sports, and meditation. Games, sports, and other programmes with a purpose should be arranged. During the festive season, juvenile facilities should organize cultural programmes for juvenile offenders with the support of volunteer groups.
Furthermore, CCTV cameras should be installed, and the video facility through CCTV should be connected, allowing the Juvenile Justice Board to examine and supervise any activities performed against the child’s best interests. Senior folks should act as community resource individuals and care after the well-being of such children to ensure their well-being.
In the case Sampurna Behrua v. Union of India and Others, the court ordered the involvement of police and civilian members of the community in the State Child Protection Society and District Child Protection Units in order to improve juvenile homes. Staff at juvenile homes must be well trained to address children’s difficulties, needs, problems, and concerns with sensitivity and efficiency. All individuals involved with the juvenile homes must be subjected to a rigorous screening and background check.
Finally, it can be concluded that children are the future of our society and should be fed with the best resources available. They do commit mistakes, sometimes of a severe kind, but they are not hardened criminals and seldom comprehend the repercussions of their actions. The legislation compels individuals to be observed and rehabilitated in observation homes or juvenile homes, yet in their current state, these places are worse than hell. A child in conflict with law, whether acquitted or guilty, is not treated with respect by society, and in the majority of instances, they repeat their offences. Amending the law does not always address the issue. Despite the fact that existing legislation requires the development of extra surveillance and juvenile homes with highly trained personnel and a Board to ensure juvenile justice via adjudication, there is little evidence of progress. “The true equity and justice of the society is how fairly it treats its children and the kind of policies it envisions and evolves to ensure that the children become fullest and equal participants as citizens in the nation’s journey”.