Legal Service India - Rights of the Child and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) ACT, 2000 - Juvenile Justice
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Rights of the Child and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) ACT, 2000

Written by: Mohit Aggarwal - M.S. Law College, Cuttack
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Human rights are those rights which are essential to live as human beings' basic standards without which people cannot survive and develop in dignity. They are inherent to the human person, inalienable and universal. As part of the framework of human rights law, all human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. Understanding this framework is important to promoting, protecting and realizing children's rights. Despite significant efforts to improve rights of the child, vulnerable and marginalized children are being forgotten. Children who are victims of abuse, exploitation and discrimination, and suffer exclusion from education, healthcare and other vital services, are being largely overlooked by international development efforts that could dramatically improve their lives and prospects.

Children who lack protection are often invisible. Millions of children are invisible to the world because their plight is hidden, under-reported, or openly neglected. Children who are most likely to become invisible have no formal identity, grow up without the loving care of parents or family, are pressed too early into adult responsibilities, and exploited for profit. The world cannot afford to let children slip from view. By allowing children to disappear from view and failing to reach and protect them, societies condemn children to more neglect and abuse, with lasting consequences for their well-being and for the development of their communities and countries.

Children need a protective environment to shield them from harm. All levels of society V from families and governments to teachers and the media have a part to play individually and collectively to prevent abuse and to ensure that children are not made invisible or forgotten. Children deserve to live in safety and with dignity. Abuse and exploitation are an affront to every child's dignity and an intolerable violation of their rights. Protecting children is essential to their physical and emotional health, their general well-being, and their ability to develop to their fullest potential. It is therefore essential to the human and economic development of nations.


UNICEF's mission is to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided in doing this by the provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Built on varied legal systems and cultural traditions, the Convention is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations.

These basic standards also called human rights' set minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be respected by governments. They are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability and therefore apply to every human being everywhere. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights' civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Every right spelled out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services. The principles outlined in the international human rights framework apply both to children and adults. Children are mentioned explicitly in many of the human rights instruments; standards are specifically modified or adapted where the needs and concerns surrounding a right are distinct for children.

All children have the same rights. All rights are interconnected and of equal importance. The Convention stresses these principles and refers to the responsibility of children to respect the rights of others, especially their parents. By the same token, children's understanding of the issues raised in the Convention will vary depending on the age of the child. Helping children to understand their rights does not mean parents should push them to make choices with consequences they are too young to handle. The Convention expressly recognizes that parents have the most important role in the bringing up children.

The Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) ACT, 2000

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which has replaced the earlier Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, has been enforced in the entire country except the State of Jammu & Kashmir w.e.f 1st April 2001. The new law is friendlier and provides for proper care and protection. A clear distinction has been made in this Act between the juvenile offender and neglected child. It also prescribes a uniform age of 18 years below which both boys and girls are to be treated as children. It also aims to enable increased accessibility to a juvenile or the child by establishing Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare
Committees and Homes in each district or group of districts.

A Programme for Juvenile Justice

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 lays down the primary law for not only the care and protection of the children but also for the adjudication and disposition of matters relating to children in conflict with law. For the implementation of the Act, the Ministry is implementing a plan Scheme called, Programme for Juvenile Justice.

The objectives of the Programme for Juvenile Justice are:

i. To extend help to State Governments to bear the cost of infrastructure and services development under the Juvenile Justice Act in order to ensure that in no circumstances the child in conflict with law is lodged in a regular prison.
ii. To ensure minimum quality standards in the juvenile justice services.
iii. To provide adequate services for prevention of social mal-adjustment and rehabilitation of socially mal-adjusted juveniles.
iv. Ensure participation of community and other organizations into the care and protection of children in conflict with law who are perhaps more vulnerable than other groups of children.

Judicial system for the juvenile and children are somewhat different. As a matter of fact, children lack maturity, they are in formative years, and can be reformed easily. So capital punishment or life imprisonment, committed to prison in default of payment of fine or in default of furnishing security cannot be awarded to them. Although the act constituting offences prescribed for the adults and the juvenile are the same, there is grate deal of difference as regard to the jurisdiction of the courts and procedure to be followed. The accused juvenile is not to be tried by ordinary criminal courts. Juvenile justice board deals them.
These boards are to function in accordance with the special procedure laid down in the act.

Our Commitments toward Children

The children who are hardest to reach include those living in the poorest countries and most deprived communities; children facing discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, disability or membership of an indigenous group; children caught up in armed conflict or affected by HIV/AIDS; and children who lack a formal identity, who suffer child protection abuses or who are not treated as children.

Tackling these factors requires swift and decisive action in four key areas:

1) Poverty and inequality.

Adjusting poverty-reduction strategies and expanding budgets or reallocating resources to social investment would assist millions of children in the poorest countries and communities.?

2) Armed conflict and 'fragile' States.

The international community must seek to prevent and resolve armed conflict and engage with countries with weak policy/institutional framework to protect children and women and provide essential services. Emergency responses for children caught up in conflict should include services for education, child protection and the prevention of HIV transmission.

3) HIV/AIDS and children.

Greater attention should be given to the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and adolescents and to ways of protecting them from both infection and exclusion. The Global Campaign on Children and HIV/AIDS will play a significant role in this regard.

4) Discrimination.

Governments and societies must openly confront discrimination, introduce and enforce legislation prohibiting it and implement initiatives to address exclusion faced by women and girls, ethnic and indigenous groups and the disabled.

They say, it is easier to mould a child than to mend a man and that the child of today is the citizen of tomorrow. It is, therefore essential that the criminal traits in youngsters be timely curbed, so that they do not turn in to habitual offenders in their forthcoming life. It is with this view in end that the problem of juvenile delinquency is presently being handled in India with grate significance. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, also, brings together the children's human rights articulated in other international instruments. The Convention, thus articulates the rights more completely and provides a set of guiding principles that fundamentally shapes the way in which we view children.

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