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Analysis of the Juvenile Justice System in India

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 interests.

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 the law.

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 supervision).

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 age.

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 Pradesh (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 Howard

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 characteristics.

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 juvenile legislation.

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 Criminal Procedure.

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 August 22.

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 requirements.

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 India, 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 perpetrators.

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[1] 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:
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.

Non-cognizable Offences:
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.

Designated Court:
The Bill proposes that all offenses under the earlier Act be tried in children's court.

Protection Law
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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