Explain The Juvenile Justice System & its Evolution in India

Updated November 10, 2022

In the past 20 to 25 years there has been a fumy hike in the crimes committed by juveniles between the age of 12 to 16. Juveniles mean youth, minor, child, etc. In legal terms, juveniles are those who haven’t yet attained the age of 18. The reasons associated with the development of such behavior among children are lack of moral values, poor economic conditions, lack of education, and parental care.

An even more surprising part of this aspect is that the children of age group between 6-12 years are being used as tools for the commission of a crime because, at this point of time, they have their subconscious mind active and can be manipulated easily for doing anything. Therefore, various laws are consolidated and amended under Juvenile Justice Systems to provide a Juvenile, Justice, care, and protection by catering to his basic need.

JJ Act & What its Lays for Juvenile Justice System

The Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of Children) Act, was enacted by the Indian Government in 1986 to deal with the wrongs committed by juveniles and to secure their interest. Reasons advocated were, the persons below the age of 18 are not mature enough of understanding wrong and right or arriving at a reasonable conclusion. And they should not be held liable equally as adults for the offense committed by them.

According to JJ Act 2000, a juvenile may be kept in an Observation home or children home during the pendency of proceedings before the competent authority and can be detained for a maximum period of 3 years irrespective of the seriousness of the crime committed by them.

But, the engagement of juveniles in heinous crime such as murder dacoity, and rape was increasing with the passage of time. So, later major changes were brought in Juvenile Justice Systems in the wake of developments that took place in juvenile crime.

Objective of Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act

An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection by catering to their basic needs through proper care, protection, development, treatment, social re-integration, by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication.

How The Act Come into Existence?

It was during the British period when certain laws were enacted to address the issue of Juvenile Crimes. So, the development of the Juvenile Justice Act in India can be dated back to the British Era. The introduction of Whipping Act of 1864 is a major example of this.

This law was introduced to punish the juveniles by lashing them for the offense they committed and further creating a hindrance in the minds of juveniles in order to eradicate such acts.

The Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1861, further took this forth by treating the child differently throughout their numerous provisions. The juvenile justice system is considered to be a direct consequence of reforms and developments in western countries.

Existing Juvenile Justice System in India

Juvenile Justice Act was enacted by India in the year 1986. Following this, the general assembly of the United Nations adopted the convention which dealt with the rights of a child, and it was in 1992 when India ratified the UNCRC. The main concern of the convention was to uphold and cherish the right of the child to reintegrate with the society without any judicial proceedings initiated against him.

And, in order to attain this the government felt, there was a need to rewrite the existing law. Thus, in the year 2000, the old law was therefore replaced by the new – Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000. Apparently, there existed wide differences between the old and the new law. Basically, he changes were made in order to secure the interest of the Juveniles. And, one of the important changes to be taken into consideration was regarding the role of NGOs.

Section 8, 9, 34, 37, and 45 of the Juvenile Justice Act dealt with the role of NGOs and other organizations – Voluntary organizations may be certified to maintain homes under this act.

Section 45 of Juvenile justice act – The state government is empowered to make rules in order to ensure effective linkages between various governmental, non-governmental, corporate, and other community agencies for the sake of rehabilitation and social integration of the child.

Changes Brought in System in the Wake of Recent Developments

We all are heard of the frightful Nirbhaya case that took place on 16 December 2013 brought the whole nation under shock. Among all 5 culprits of the Nirbhaya case, 1 was a child or juvenile because he was 6 months away from the completion of 18 years during the time of the commission of the crime.

With regard to the nature of the crime, he was considered to be the one accused of being most heinous but he was released after 3 years of imprisonment just because he was a juvenile. Therefore, the nation shouted for change in Juvenile Justice Systems. And It was on December 22, 2015, that the Rajya Sabha finally passed the juvenile justice bill 2015 to make major changes in the laws. Changes made in the Act are listed below.

(i). It has been proposed that if a heinous crime is committed by a person in the age group of 16 to 18 years, the Juvenile Justice Board will first assess if the said crime was committed by that person as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult’.

(ii). The Juvenile Justice Board will have a psychologist 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.

(iii). The trial of the case shall proceed on the basis of the Board’s assessment report that whether the concerned juvenile has committed the crime as a child or as an adult.

(iv). Every district in the country must have Juvenile Justice and additionally a child welfare committee, which comes into play as a consequence of the passage of the bill.

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Beyond Juvenile Justice System Under General Studies

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