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JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM

Author: Shefali Chitkara

Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Delhi



“It’s very important for us to understand that the youth within juvenile justice system are those who haven’t had the right mentors and supporters around them. It is due to the circumstances beyond their control.”


ABSTRACT

Children are considered to be the supreme assets of a country. They are the future owners of the nation. Good values must be inculcated in them from the very beginning because some people do not hesitate to take the benefit of their immaturity and use them as a tool for committing the crime. Due to such people our future stakeholders are at a huge risk. It is also due to the indifferences that exist in the society that the children are not brought up properly which unfortunately leads to child delinquency. In India, providing every child with every possible protection and care is a huge challenge due to its huge population but if the system has been brought up in such a manner that is respected by everyone then nothing is impossible. The write-up deals with the juvenile justice system, how it has been evolved during the years. It also provides the history of this system and what modifications have been made in the new act by referring to the important cases and provisions of the law. Almost every country has developed a juvenile justice system. India, too, has a justice system to deal with the young offenders.


INTRODUCTION

With the frightful incident of “Nirbhaya Delhi Gang Rape Case” on December 16, 2012 that has shocked the whole country, many issues were raised. One such issue was the involvement of the accused who has not attained the age of 18 years. His involvement in such a heinous crime of rape has forced the Legislation to introduce a new law which is “Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection), 2015. The new act has replaced the existing laws related to juvenile. The remarkable changes that have been made in this act are later discussed in the paper. The term ‘Juvenile’ has been derived from the Latin word Juvenis that means young so, ‘a justice system for the young’. When crimes are committed by children, their cases are heard in juvenile courts. It mainly focuses on the counseling and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. Since the crimes are increasing day-by-day, the worst part is that the share of crimes committed by juveniles to total crimes has increased tremendously. Before going deep into the topic, there is a need of understanding the history of Juvenile Justice System in India, legal definition of Juvenile, difference between Juvenile and Child.


HISTORY OF JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM

A movement for special treatment of juvenile offenders has been started throughout the world around the 18th century. Before this, juvenile offenders were treated the same as other criminal offenders. On November 20, 1989, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a convention on the Rights of Child. It further leads the Indian Legislation to repeal the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 and make a new law. So, it came up with “The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. This act was further repealed by Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 was enacted with more modifications so that the juveniles in conflict of the law in the age group of 16-18 years who are involved in heinous crimes can be tried as adults. Juvenile Justice is one of those steps taken by the nation to attain the constitutional vision of India pertaining to the care and wellbeing of children.


LEGAL DEFINITION OF JUVENILE

According to Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, a Juvenile is a boy who has not completed 16 years of age and a girl who has not completed 18 years of age. When this act was revoked by Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, then the distinction in the age of male and female was done away and it has been fixed at 18 years. And also, under Section 2 (35) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015, “juvenile” means a child below the age of eighteen years.


DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JUVENILE AND MINOR

Both the above mentioned terms have the same meaning in general sense. However, difference lies in the context of implications in the eyes of law. A minor is a person who is below the age of 18 years and juvenile is a young person who has been accused of a crime as has been defined above. In other words, a minor or a child indicates an innocent person and the juvenile is an immature and young offender. Child has been defined under Section 2 (12) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and juvenile has been defined under Section 2 (35) of the act.


DEFINITION OF DELINQUENCY

According to W. H. Sheldon, delinquency is a behavior that is disappointing beyond reasonable expectations. It is an unwelcomed action or omission on the part of a juvenile which is socially not permitted. It is also defined as a disorder where a child is pretending to act like an adult. According to American Psychological Association, juvenile delinquency is defined as an illegal behaviour by a child which would be considered criminal if committed by an adult.


JUVENILE CRIMES IN INDIA AND THE LAW

Children are the future stakeholders of the nation. There is a need to teach them the lessons of life by adults, and parents must give time to their children. They must talk to them about their issues, teach them to respect the laws and people of the nation. Wrongdoings by juveniles is an unforgiving reality in India. In the recent years, they have been observed to be involved in the most heinous crimes like rape, murder. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the National Capital has registered an 11.5% increase in juvenile crimes in 2017. One report also said that educated juveniles committed more crimes than illiterate ones in that year. According to the Crime in India report, 2018, the number of juvenile crimes committed was around 31,000 and almost 99% of the juveniles apprehended for the crimes were boys. Many specialists believe that present law is not sufficient to tackle the circumstances and we require changes in it so that we could change the direction of the wrong-going juveniles.


CAUSES OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Researchers show that there are various reasons for juvenile delinquency. At every stage of life, a person’s behaviour changes, similar is the case with children. They tend to fall in the trap of people very easily. Some of the causes are as follows:

  1. Modern Life Style

  2. Economic condition and Poverty

  3. Instability during Adolescence

  4. Laxity in parental control

  5. Lack of care and protection

  6. Lack of Education

Similarly, there are many other reasons like children are not able to differentiate between right and wrong. This needs to be looked upon by the law makers because there is an urgent need to stop the increasing juvenile crimes.


PRESENT JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN INDIA

The previous Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was replaced by the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 as it contains the ill-equipped legal provisions and showed the malfunctioning of the juvenile system. The cases related to juvenile crimes are also increasing in the recent years and the Delhi Gang