This article is written by Diprava Ghosh of Adamas University, an intern under Legal Vidhiya
Delinquent children are extraordinary children that display significant deviation in their social adjustment and are therefore categorised as socially deviant or socially impaired. They have been discovered to have criminal tendencies and to engage in antisocial activity. In this regard, they resemble criminals and antisocial characters. However, in legal parlance, they are referred to as delinquents rather than criminals.
Delinquent, adjustment, impaired, Antisocial, Parlance.
Before going in depth of this act let’s first know the term ‘juvenile’. It refers to any person below the age of 18 who has been accused of a crime. As we know child is one whose age is under 18 years, but when this child commits any crime, normal or heinous, called a Juvenile. The Children’s constitute almost half of the World’s Population.
Juvenile Justice Act 2015 passed by the Lok Sabha in May 2015 amidst protest and criticism. It passed by Rajya Sabha in December 2015. It repealed Juvenile Justice 2000.
HISTORY OF CHILD DELINQUENCY LAWS IN INDIA: –
In India before 1960 there was no consistency regarding the age limit of Juvenile delinquent, every state had different age limit of a child, In Bombay Children Act 1948 child means a boy not completed the age of 16 year and a girl not completed the age of 18 years.
The history of India’s juvenile justice system or When the Indian Constitution attempts to protect its residents through Fundamental Rights as well as imposes duties on the government through Directive Principles of State Policy, it is clear that one of the primary prerequisites of post-independence India was a law to defend children and juvenile offenders. This article explores the history of India’s juvenile justice system as well as the historical context of juvenile crime in India. It concerns children who have conflicted with the law and need care and protection.
The history of Juvenile Justice in India dates back to the Indian Constitution’s efforts to protect citizens and impose duties on the state. The Children’s Act of 1960 was enacted to protect children and juvenile offenders, offering welfare, education, mentoring, and training. The Act also included observation homes and special educational systems. Juvenile courts in India were confined to youth under 16 years old who did not commit crimes punishable with death or life imprisonment. The juvenile Justice Act of 1986 followed the united nations Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, while the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 aimed to follow the principles outlined in united Nations Conventions.
The Nirbhaya event in the Delhi gang rape case led to a punitive approach to juvenile justice. The Main role of the juvenile justice system in India is to correct juveniles through education and non – penal treatment through social control agencies like observation homes, special homes, and school.
The movement for special treatment of juvenile offenders began in the 18th century, with developed countries like the UK and the US supporting it. The United Nations adopted a Convention on the Rights of Children in 1989 to protect juvenile offenders’ best interests. This led to the repeal of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, and the creation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The Act aims to provide care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation, and ensuring fair criminal justice administration in cases of heinous crimes committed by juvenile offenders.
Who is Juvenile in India? or What is Juvenile Age in India? And Difference between a Juvenile and Minor: –
In India, a person below 18 years old is considered a juvenile or person of juvenile age. Juveniles are those who have committed offenses or need care and protection. The juvenile justice system aims too rehabilitate young offenders and give them a second chance. Factors contributing to juvenile involvement include brain development issues, exposure to alcohol or drugs, abuse or violence, poor parenting, media influence, and lack of education. The system is influenced by western countries and has been enacted by various acts, including The Apprentices Act, Indian Penal Code, Reformatory School Act, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Recommendations by the Indian Jail Committee in 1920. Juvenile courts are responsible for executing these individuals.
JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN INDIA: –
Before 1960, India had no consistent age limit for juvenile delinquents. Each state had its own Children Act, with different definitions for children. The Bombay Children Act 1948 defined a child as a boy under 16 years old, while the U.P Children Act defined a person under 16. India became a signatory to the UN Declaration on Children’s Rights in 1959 and passed the Children Act 1960 in 1960. However, due to the Standard Minimum Rules for Juvenile Justice adopted by UN countries in 1985, India has to repeal the Children Act 1960 and introduce the Juvenile Justice Act 1986. The United Nations adopted a convention on child rights in 1989, defining a child as a human being below 18 years old.
Juvenile Justice is crucial for children, as they are born innocent but often face negative social and environmental factors that lead to criminal tendencies. The government and society must provide a healthy environment for children to become civilized citizens. Juveniles are considered as children who have not completed a specific age mentioned in the country’s law, and under that age, they cannot be treated as adults. Each country has its own Juvenile Justice act, which aims to correct and reform them rather than punish them. Juvenile Justice began in the 19th century with the creation of reform schools and work farms for children.
This Act define Child into two categories: –
- Child in conflict with law – section- 13
- Child in need of care and protection – section- 14
The Juvenile Justice Board is the competent authority for children who fall under the category of “child in need of care and protection,” and the Child Welfare Committee is the competent authority for children who fall under the category of “child in need of care and protection”.
This law also talks about three categories of offences by Juvenile:
- Heinous Offences
- Serious Offence
- Pretty Offences
- Heinous Offence: This offence comprises all of the following: Assault, Culpable Homicide, Resulting in Angry Hurt, Rape’ kidnapping or abducting with the goal to subject to slavery, disposing of or buying people as slaves, Dacoits, robbery, Rioting, Housebreaking, Mischief by Fire, or any dangerous matter, any crime punishable in Chapter VI or XII of the Indian Penal Code, or any other crime.
- Serious Offence: – This Act provides that the Juvenile Justice Board will inquire about a child who is accused of a serious offence. Serious offences are the ones punishable by three to eight years in prison. According to the Bill, major offences would now include offences for which the maximum sentence is more than seven years in jail and the minimum punishment is not imposed or is less than seven years.
- Pretty Offence: – Crimes for which maximum punishment is imprisonment up to 3 years. Assault, simple bodily harm, theft, forgery, and other offences fall into this category.
Each category of offences has different punishment but a juvenile cannot be given death penalty and cannot be given life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
The process through which a young person will be determined to be an adult:
When a Juvenile between the ages of 16 and 18 commits a terrible crime, the Juvenile Justice Board conducts an investigation to discover the Mental and to comprehend the implications.
After that inquiry three types of order maybe recommended by Juvenile Justice Board:
- The adolescent may be sent for counselling or performing community service.
- The Juvenile can be sent to observation home for temporary or for a long period,
- The juvenile may be assigned to Children’s Courts to assess whether the juvenile should be tried as an adult or not.
This children’s Court is a Sessions court notified under that the commission for protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, this court determine that whether the juvenile will be tried as an adult or will sent observation home for counselling. So, it is decided through the trial process that not every juvenile is going to be punished as an adult.
Case: – Telangana High court Orders Trial Court to issue a New order Regarding Convict’s Juvenility Claim in 2004 Rape case, over Thirteen years later.
The Telangana High Court has directed the court of first impression to issue an update regarding the convict’s claims of juvenility, over a decade after the Supreme Court rejected his SLP contesting his indictment in a 2004 rape case.
The division bench of Justice K Lakshman and Justice Sree Sudha ordered that the trial court re-examine the convict’s application, which was filed in 2018, and take into account the more than seven-year delay in filing after the Supreme Court dismissed the SLP.
“The learned Judge shall also consider the learned Addl. Public Prosecutor’s contention that the petitioner herein filed the present application with a delay of 71/2 years without properly explaining the said delay, and that he filed the said application by creating the aforesaid documents.” Thus, learned Judge shall analyse the aforementioned issues and pass order anew precisely in compliance with legislation as soon as feasible, preferably within three months of receipt of a copy of this order,” it added.
The trial court dismissed the convict’s application in November 2018, ruling that Section 7-A of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 went into effect on August 22, 2006, and because it has only prospective application, the accused cannot benefit from the amendment made subsequent to the offence committed by him. However, the petitioner’s attorney maintained that the benefit of juvenility can be claimed at any point before any court, even after the trial court’s judgement or dismissal by the appellate court and the Supreme Court.
The bench relied on rulings in Hariram Vs. State of Rajasthan [Supreme Court], Jayavel Vs. State [Madras High Court], and Anil Agarwal Vs. State of West Bengal to conclude that the question of raising juvenility at any time before any court, even after case disposition, is no longer res Integra. Amit Singh Vs. State of Maharashtra [Bombay High Court], and several other similar decisions.
The sum and content of the aforementioned judgements is that juvenility can be raised at any time and at any stage, including after the Apex Court’s final disposition of the case, including SLP. In the current case, the Supreme Court dismissed the petitioner’s SLP on February 22, 2010. “There is no doubt that the petitioner herein did not claim juvenility before the trial Court, the High Court, or the Apex Court,” the court observed. “He filed the present application vide Crl.M.P.No.38 of 2018 only on 18.11.2017, i.e., after 7 12 years of dismissal of SLP,” the court continued. As a result of this, the petitioner is running late. However, in light of the aforementioned premise,” He filed the present application vide Crl.M.P.No.38 of 2018 only on 18.11.2017, i.e., after 7 ½ years of dismissal of SLP,” it continued. As a result, the petitioner is behind schedule. However, under the aforementioned concept established by the Apex Court and other Courts, juvenility might be invoked at any moment.”
The court stated that the Act consolidated and updated the law dealing to juveniles in conflict with the law and children in need of care and protection by providing them with suitable care, protection, and treatment.
It went on to say that “the aforementioned aspects were not considered by the Court below in the impugned judgement, and thus the same is liable to be set aside.”
The court was considering a revision of the Sessions Court’s dismissal of an application filed under Section 9(2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. In 2004, the petitioner raped and murdered a young girl and was prosecuted under sections 376 and 304 of the Indian Penal Code. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2006. An appeal was filed, but it was rejected by a division bench of the High Court in 2009. In 2010, an SLP was filed before the Supreme Court, which was likewise dismissed.
The age group 6-18 is sensitive and easily influenced, making it crucial to create awareness to prevent exploitation and abuse. Juvenile delinquency is a common issue, with unemployment, poverty, and social issues being common reasons. A legal system to tackle these issues is necessary, aiming to eradicate root causes and provide a simple yet non-compromising system for rebuilding children’s lives.
Child criminals have a different mental state than adults, requiring proper care and support. The government and society should love and generously care for children, removing their criminal mindset and promoting normal life. The Juvenile Justice Act has been amended, but society must support the government in reducing juvenile crimes. The government must address the factors contributing to these crimes and work towards resolving them.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.