Introduction and Types of Juvenile Offences
Juvenile justice refers to the set of policy, system of laws and procedures to
regulate the criminalisation, rehabilitation and redemption of non-adult
offenders in contravention of the law of the land. Today in a welfare society,
the term "juvenile justice" has a broad meaning. It not only refers to the
criminalisation of violators of the law but it also provides legal remedies that
protect their interests in situations of conflict or neglect.
The term "juvenile delinquency" describes criminal activity and antisocial
behaviour committed by someone under the age of 18. Crime is the act in wherein
adults engage in criminal or antisocial activity. Juvenile delinquency can be
thought of as the juvenile form of criminality.
When committed by juveniles, punishable offences that are considered criminal
offences for adults (such as murder, robbery, and larceny) are referred to as
delinquency, whereas juvenile offences that only require legal intervention
(such as drinking and using tobacco, truancy, and running away from home) are
known as status offences. In cases where parents or other legal guardians are
absent, careless, or embroiled in custody issues, children are also subject to
particular laws, processes, and policies that are intended to safeguard their
The child and adolescent variant of crime is juvenile delinquency. Status
behaviours and delinquent offences are two broad categories of juvenile
delinquency. Status offences are actions that are prohibited due to the age of
the offender and are deemed unsuitable or unhealthy for children and teenagers.
These actions when demonstrated by adults is merely unethical and not against
Running away from home, drinking or using alcohol, skipping school, using
nicotine, or breaking curfew are just a few examples of status violations. There
are further status offences, which are simply labels applied to children by
parents and the juvenile judicial system. These transgressions include
ungovernability, incorrigibility, waywardness, and inactivity.
The juvenile justice system has developed formal labels for troubled teenagers
depending on the jurisdiction. These include YINS (youth in need of
supervision), MINS (minor in need of supervision), CHINS (child in need of
supervision), and PINS (person in need of supervision) (youth in need of
Delinquent offences are transgressions of the law that fall within the
jurisdiction of the criminal justice system for adults as well. Acts of violence
against people, such as murder, rape, armed robbery, aggravated and simple
assault, harassment, stalking, menacing, child abuse, and other offences, are
considered delinquent offences.
Property crimes such as burglary, theft, larceny, theft of a motor vehicle,
arson, property damage, criminal mischief, vandalism, and others are also
classified as delinquent offences. Delinquent offences also include a variety of
other charges that are commonly referred to as public order violations. These
include drinking and driving, animal cruelty, drug possession and usage,
forgery, fraud, disorderly behaviour, unlawful use of firearms, prostitution and
other commercial vices, begging and loitering, and traffic offences.
Definition of Child and Juvenile under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and
other various laws
Any person under the age of 18 is considered a juvenile under the law. Any child
under the age of seven cannot be found guilty of a crime, according to Indian
law. Because of the notion of Doli incapax, which literally translates to
"unable to create intent to commit a crime," children under the age of seven in
India cannot be found guilty of any crime.
- Prior legislation referred to both as juveniles, making it difficult to
distinguish between youngsters in need of care and protection and those who
were in trouble with the law
- To make the distinction clear, the terms "children in conflict with the
law" and "children in need of care and protection" are used in the updated
statute (2015 Act).
Any person who has not reached the age of majority is referred to as a juvenile.
In other words, a juvenile is a young person or youngster who is not old enough
to be considered an adult. As a result, according to the law, different
jurisdictions may have different standards for identifying juveniles. For
instance, while the age of majority is typically 18 years old, it is 20 years in
places like Japan and Taiwan.
The provisions of this Act must apply to all cases involving children in need of
care and protection and children in conflict with the law, including — I the
capture, custody, prosecution, penalty or imprisonment, rehabilitation and
social reintegration of children in conflict with the law;
The Juvenile Justice Board will judge the claim of juvenility. Any court that
receives a claim of juvenility or that is of the view that a person is a
juvenile before, during, or on the day the offence was committed may look into
the matter and gather the information required to determine the individual's
A claim of juvenility may be submitted at any time during the course of the
case, including the very last stage or afterwards. The Juvenile Justice (Care
and Protection) Act of 2000's guidelines will be followed in determining how the
claim is recognised.
It was determined in the case of Ashok Kumar and Others v. State of Madhya
(2021) that juvenility could be asserted at any time, even after the
matter was resolved.
International Concerns for Juvenile
No civilized society regards children as accountable for their actions to the
same extent as adults ... The wisdom of protecting young children against the
full rigour of the law is beyond argument. The difficulty lies in determining
when and under what circumstances should it be removed.' – Professor Colin
Juvenile protection laws are highly contentious and need to be addressed with
the utmost respect. Judiciary has evolved, and the legal system is now more
explicit about juvenile delinquency. Until recently, the law relating to the
commission of crimes by juveniles was under a quandary.
A delicate area of law that deals with children's rights and protection is
juvenile justice. As a result, various pieces of legislation—whether national or
international—have been adopted at all levels. The field of juvenile justice
deals with a variety of concerns, including as a kid's liberty and behavioral
Article 5 of the Beijing rules lay down the aims of juvenile justice as:
"The juvenile justice system shall emphasize the well-being of the juvenile and
shall ensure that any reaction to juvenile offenders shall always be in
proportion to the circumstances of both the offenders and the
Although the idea of juvenile justice was not given much attention until the
late 19th century, it has since developed into the area of law with the greatest
number of laws and international agreements. The worldwide juvenile justice
system focuses on crimes committed by minors and has included safeguards to
guard against legal misuse of minors' rights. Many nations have implemented
legal safeguards to protect the interests of the young people in response to the
growing concerns about child protection and their rights.
In Roper v. Simmons
, 543 U.S. 551, Christopher Simmons, then 17 years
old, planned a house invasion and murder of a woman. He prepared the crime along
with two of his friends. However, one of his companions left the plan the day
before the murder. The victim was bound in the victim's house by Simmons and his
companion, who then threw her over the bridge. The jury in this case recommended
the death punishment after finding him guilty.
Juvenile justice movement in the west and its impact in India
The core tenet of juvenile court law is that if a kid is shown to be living in
social or private circumstances that encourage criminality, the State must
intervene and take custody of them. This represents the understanding that kids
can't take care of themselves and that bad behaviour has a negative impact on
society as a whole.
India experienced considerable upheaval in the 19th century as a result of the
juvenile justice reform movement in the West, but the recommendations of the
1920–1921 Indian Jail Commission served as the major catalyst for distinct
The majority of States have passed laws modelled on the 1960 Children Act of
Great Britain that establish separate juvenile court and treatment systems. Many
States still do not have distinct juvenile courts; instead, these cases are
handled by specially qualified magistrates.
It is obvious that several States have violated India's humanitarian
Constitution by implementing its juvenile laws half-heartedly. The juvenile
court only has jurisdiction over minors under 16 who have committed crimes that
are not punished by death or life in prison, according to the 1973 Code of
The Central Children Act of 1960 raises the minimum age for girls to 18 and
broadens the concept of delinquency. States also have different age
restrictions. Children who have been detained by the police may be released on
bail to their guardians or parents, or they may be required to appear in court
within 24 hours.
Before making a judgement, the court asks the probation officer for a background
report. Judges in juvenile courts need to be particularly knowledgeable about
child psychology and welfare. The juvenile court has a positive reputation,
despite its limited success in the field of crime prevention.
Indian Juvenile Justice System: Historical Background
The Apprentice Act of 1850 was the first piece of juvenile law, mandating that
youths between the ages of 10 and 18 who had been found guilty by a court get
some kind of occupational training that would aid in their rehabilitation and
reformation. The Reformatory Schools Act of 1897 came after it.
The Indian Jail Committee (1919-20) emphasised the necessity of treating young
criminals fairly and holding them accountable for their crimes. Its
recommendations led to the Children Act being passed in Madras in 1920. Bengal
and Bombay Acts were passed in 1922 and 1924, respectively, as a result. The
Madras, Bengal, and Bombay Acts, the three pioneer acts, underwent significant
revisions between 1948 and 1959.
The Children Act of 1960, a Central statute, was subsequently passed to address
the needs of the Union Territories. The Children (Amendment) Act was passed in
1978 to fill in the gaps in the aforementioned Act. However, the necessity for
universal juvenile justice legislation for the entire nation has been voiced in
venues, including Parliament, but it was unable to be passed because the issue
at hand was covered by the State List of the Indian Constitution.
The Parliament appears to have used its authority under Article 253 of the
Constitution read with Entry 14 of the Union List to make laws for the entirety
of India to comply with international obligations to bring the country's
juvenile justice system's operations into compliance with the United Nations
Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing
Rules, 1985). The Juvenile Justice Bill, 1986 was tabled in the Lok Sabha on
Its goals and scope were unambiguous, and an examination of how the current
Children Acts function would suggest that much more attention has to be paid to
children who are discovered in situations of social maltreatment, destitution,
or neglect. It was believed that applying the adult criminal system to
adolescents was inappropriate. It was believed that a consistent juvenile
justice system should be implemented in order to make proper preparations for
the nation's shifting social, cultural, and economic landscape.
The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986's provisions supplanted earlier state
legislation on the issue, including the Children Act of 1960, that had similar
According to The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986, a male had to be 16 years old to
be considered a juvenile, while a female had to be 18 years old. In addition,
the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 was a result of Sheela Barse v. Union of
, 1986 (2) Scale 1, which addressed the necessity for an unified law
pertaining to children
The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 was passed, but there were still gaps in the
law. As was to be expected, the 1986 Act did not stand the test of time and had
to be replaced by The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of
2000. This Act made the legal age the same for both genders.
This Act established a framework for the protection, care, and rehabilitation of
children under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system and called for a
unique approach to the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency. This
law was implemented in accordance with the 1989 United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child (UNCRC), repealing the earlier Juvenile Justice Act of 1986
after India signed and ratified the UNCRC in 1992.
Partap Singh v. State of Jharkhand,
2005(3) SCC 551, was a landmark
judgement of the Hon. Supreme Court of India by a Constitutional Bench that
addressed this issue in detail and held that "reckoning date for the
determination of the age of the juvenile is the date of commission of the
offence" because there were a few grey areas where this new Act was silent and
not expressive in dealing with certain issues, most importantly determining the
age of a juvenile offender. As a result, the law dealing to this matter was
revised in light of the aforementioned ruling by the Hon'ble Apex Court.
On August 22, 2006, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)
Amendment Act of 2006 went into effect. The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 was
still in effect when this amendment was passed, giving hope to young people who
were older than 16 at the time of the alleged offence. The age was raised from
16 years pending trial to 18 years with the passage of The Juvenile Justice
(Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act of 2006
therefore included a particular explanation to Section 20 to remove this issue.
Juveniles, however, misapplied this legal provision to their advantage, and the
nation saw horrible atrocities committed by juveniles on a national scale. The
defence offered by the modified Act was somewhat comprehended by the
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000
The Act of 2000 was a real attempt on the part of the Indian government to
instill the tenets of UN conventions like the CRC, the Beijing Rules, and the
1990 Rules. The JJ Act, 2000 was passed, according to the Supreme Court of
India, to address offenses committed by minors in a way that differs from the
law that applies to adults.
The Act's very structure favours rehabilitation over the adversarial style that
courts are typically used to. Its execution, therefore, required a radical shift
in the thinking of those in positions of power to enforce it, without which it
would be nearly difficult to accomplish its goals.
Applicability of the Act:
In Jameel v. State of Maharashtra
, the Honourable Supreme Court found
that, with regard to the appellant's claim about the JJ Act, 2000's
applicability, it is undeniable that the appellant was 16 years old on the date
of the incident. Because the crime of unnatural intercourse was committed on
December 16, 1989, the JJ Act of 2000 did not apply.
According to the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986, a juvenile was defined as a boy
or girl who has not reached the age of 16 or 18 respectively. Therefore, the
argument that the JJ Act, 2000 would apply because the accused was under 18 on
the date the event occurred is unpersuasive because the accused was over 18 on
the date the JJ Act, 2000 went into effect. Because the accused was 16 years old
at the time of the incident, the JJ Act of 2000 is completely irrelevant.
Juvenile Justice Board:
A Juvenile Justice Board (hereafter, the JJB) may be established for a district
or a collection of districts by the State Government. The establishment and
composition of the Board are covered in Section 4 of the JJ Act, 2000. In
accordance with Section 5(2), a child who has committed an offense may be
brought before a specific Board member if the Board is not in session. The Board
has sole authority under Section 6(1) to handle all cases under the 2000 Act
relating to juveniles in conflict with the law.
Juveniles in dispute with the law: In each district or group of districts,
observation homes are to be constructed for the temporary reception of such
juveniles while an investigation is ongoing.
The act also established various other authorities and facilities like Special
homes with classifications of juveniles based on age, considering
physical/mental health and nature of the offence. This gave a more reformative
approach than earlier.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015
The tragic and brutal gang rape assault in Delhi (Nirbhaya case of December 16,
2012), which rocked the entire country, exposed the gap in the current juvenile
law. Due to its ineffectiveness in preventing crimes involving minors,
particularly those between the ages of 16 and 18, who commit terrible crimes
like rape and murder, the present juvenile law was heavily criticized across the
country as a result of this tragedy.
After the events in the Nirbhaya case
, it became urgently necessary to
modify the current law, which calls for 16- and 17-year-olds to be tried as
adults. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was
approved by the Indian Parliament in 2015 in response to public outcry, but not
without significant controversy, debate, and opposition from the child rights
community regarding many of its provisions.
It replaced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, of 2000,
which dealt with juvenile delinquency in India and permitted those 16 to 18
years old who were in trouble with the law and committed serious crimes to be
tried as adults. According to the aforementioned statute, the Juvenile Justice
Boards, which are made up of a metropolitan magistrate or judicial magistrate
and two social workers, had the authority to decide whether the criminal should
be tried in adult court as an adult or as a juvenile.
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of
Inter-Country Adoption, 1993 was absent from the earlier legislation until it
was included in the new bill. The bill also aimed to streamline the adoption
procedure for orphaned, abandoned, and turned-in children. The bill was approved
by the lower house, or Lok Sabha, on May 7, 2015, and the upper house, or Rajya
Sabha, on December 22, 2015. The Indian President signed the bill on December
31, 2015, and it became effective on January 15, 2016.
Thus, the new Act was passed to give effect to India's obligations under three
international conventions, namely the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),
the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, and the
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice
(Beijing Rules, 1985). (Havana Rules, 1990).
The juvenile justice (care and protection of children) amendment bill, 2021
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021,
which aims to change the Juvenile Justice Act, of 2015, was passed in the Lok
Sabha on March 15th, 2021. The proposed legislation was presented by the
Minister of Women and Child Development, Ms. Smirti Zubin Irani, and was firmly
valued by both the decision party and resistance individuals. On July 28th,
2021, the Rajya Sabha approves the modifications to the Child
Key Amendments Proposed by the Bill:
Serious offenses are those for which the minimum punishment is either not
specified or is less than seven years in jail and the maximum sentence is
greater than that.
Serious offenses are those for which the Indian Penal Code or any other law now
in effect imposes a sentence of three to seven years in jail.
According to the current Act, an offense is not cognizable (where an arrest is
permitted without a warrant) if it is penalized by a sentence of three to seven
years in prison.
This is changed in the bill to say that these offenses won't be recognized.
The child currently belongs to the adoptive parents, according to the adoption
order the court granted. According to the Bill, the District Magistrate
(including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption orders
rather than the court.
According to the Bill, anyone who is dissatisfied with an adoption order issued
by the District Magistrate may appeal the decision to the Divisional
Commissioner within 30 days of the order's passage.
As per the earlier act, the final decision of the child being adopted to the
parents would be given by the court. According to the Bill, the District
Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption
orders rather than the court.
Additional Functions of the District Magistrate includes overseeing the District
Child Protection Unit, and conducting a quarterly review of the functioning of
the Child Welfare Committee.
The bill also proposes a certain strict criterion for people to be a part of the
child welfare committee that includes that they must not have been convicted of
offences involving moral turpitude, involves in offenses of a violation of human
or child rights, or has been removed from government or associated employment.
The Bill proposes that all offenses under the earlier Act be tried in children's
The amendment seeks to strengthen the protection of children, particularly those
who need legal certainty and those who have a difficult time complying with the
law. According to the Act, a child is only adopted once the common court issues
an adoption request. According to the Bill, local judges, including extra-local
officers, will issue such adoption orders instead of the court.
The focus of this measure has been on issues like child adoption and serious
felonies reported by minors. The Act of 2015 includes provisions for children
who are in legal trouble and need care and protection. The new amendment bill
seeks to propose measures to strengthen the system for protecting children.
This Act was passed with the view to eliminate the troubles in translation of
the past Juvenile Justice Act
All of these successive acts and rules depict the growing understanding as well
as sensitization and evolution of child laws in India.
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