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The Road To Justice For Children: Juvenile Delinquency

The only effective way to reduce and prevent Juvenile crime is to balance tough measures with targeted, effective, and intervention initiatives.

The above quote was stated by Janet Reno, the Attorney General of the United States to explain the solutions needed to control and overcome the existing issue of crimes being committed by the juvenile. It mentions that how single-handedly only tough measures cannot solve the problem and they need to be balanced up with some steps for effective and targeted interventions in the problem along with proper enforcement of the laws.

To understand the concept of Juvenile Delinquency and to observe its impact on justice and liability for children, we will first understand the scope of the term 'Juvenile' and then proceed to its impact. A Juvenile includes any person who is of the age below the age fixed upon by any law to try an offender of the law as an adult.

However, as demanded and modified according to the present circumstances, the term Juvenile has been demarcated with a little bit of difference from the definition of the term 'child'. A child refers to anyone who is under the age of majority as determined by any law as to understand the consequences of his/her act however a juvenile refers to any person under the age of majority as per the law but above a certain age where he/she could be convicted and tried in the court as an adult for heinous crimes.

In the present world, young people are often seen to be of an aggressive nature, excessively emotional and lost in their own world of fantasies. All these factors in many cases lead to the occurrence of Juvenile Delinquency by these young people. Juvenile Delinquency refers to a violation of law committed by any person, not of the majority age. The term is not so simple to be defined because it has so many aspects to get looked at from.

If the violation is not of a heinous nature, the individual should be tried as a juvenile under a process completely different from the trial of an adult individual for the same offence. However, if the offence is of the nature of a heinous crime, the individual referred to as the juvenile should be tried like an adult for the commission of the grave offence.

The Indian Penal Code assumes a child to be incompetent for committing a crime or any violation of law referring to the child being under 7 years of age. So, the main objective of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 can be concluded as to focus more on improving and making rehabilitative circumstances for a child in conflict with the law rather than proceeding them in a similar way as for adults. The protection of a child does not revolve around it being harassed or tortured by an adult or its colleagues, it also includes situations wherein the child is incapable of controlling his/her own emotions and proceeds to commit any crime resulting in which he/she can come into conflict with the law.

The Indian law provides an interesting feature that contrary to the proceedings of an accused adult, he/she is presumed to be guilty, but In the case of a child, the child is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This difference clearly prevents the child from getting suffered from injustice. Also, a child is given the right of getting his/her right to be considered every time whenever choices or decisions influencing him/her are made. This prevents the child from being influenced or forced to follow up on someone else's decision.

Coming up to the point of juvenile delinquency wherein a child is accused of committing a step against the law that lands him/her in trouble, the Indian law directs that the best interest of the child should be considered while deciding the case. Also, except the situations where re-pairing or reunion of the child with the family is not in the best interest of the child, it is directed by law that maximum possible effort to reunite the child shall be made as to prevent the child from getting affected from the past happened events.

For the same reason, an institution known as the Juvenile Justice Board was constituted under Section 4 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. The same Act also had set-up another body known as the Child Welfare committee to deal with children who are in demand of care and security.

The system of Juvenile Justice in India can be seen as a result formed after summarising many international treaties among whom the major role was played by the Convention on the Rights of Child. The current legislation governing the administration of justice for juveniles is the Act of Juvenile Justice passed in 2015.

It is explained in brief in article 39 of our constitution that the state has a duty to protect the child from exploitation and harassment and also when the child is in conflict with the law. We all know that children are the future of a country and in a country like India where children seem to be the most vulnerable for committing and suffering from violations of the law, the result is the dire need for an effective system of rules and justice for the juveniles or the children.

There have been many conferences of the United Nations for recognition of the rights of children. The current justice system for Children is the Juvenile Justice Act which aims to treat a child with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth along with reinforcing the child's respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and taking into account the child's age and the desirability of promoting the child's reintegration along with the child assuming a constructive role in the society.

The Indian Government has taken up a lot of steps for the improvement of justice delivered to a child and to prevent any negative impact on the child's present and future. However, there seems to be a dire need for more stringent and effective measures to differentiate between heinous crimes and petty crimes committed by a child. The focus of these measures should focus on whether the accused juvenile can be improved or rehabilitated or whether there is no chance for the same.

These measures can be decided by observing, comparing and analysing the age, behaviour and social circumstances of the upbringing of the child which do perform a major role in the formation of the nature of an individual. The need for such laws could be seen by the number of cases arising these days where crimes are being committed by juveniles who believe it is a way to cheat the law and commit reckless acts in violation of the law and then plead innocence at the end just because they are included under the term 'juvenile' and do fall under a specified age limit.

These types of juveniles cannot be compromised upon or ignored as they do seriously damage the social living in a society as acting under the provisions formed for the prevention and protection of children from unnecessary suffering.

There was an unfortunate case which occurred in 2012 when an accused was prevented from being prosecuted for a gang rape and murder case just because he had a few months left before turning to a major age decided by law for an adult. The Juvenile Justice Act had been passed to prevent such injustices and for the prosecution of such criminals who try to fall under the ambit of juvenile innocence after committing heinous crimes.

Although the Juvenile Justice Act has made some difference to the past situation, still there is a great need for the law to prevent such injustice to another victim just because the offender is short of the major age.

If we follow the above-mentioned steps blindly and act according to the emotions as directed from our heart, we shall lie on the other side of the coin with a destructive end for the juveniles accused of petty crimes who could be cured, guided and reformed into a good citizen for a country. This could only be achieved through treating the accused juveniles with a separate treatment from the adults to reform them into great individuals for the nation.

Therefore, the law for the Juvenile Justice System should be made in such a way so that neither of the sides suffers any loss and both get justice equally. In other words, the law should be made in such a way that it clearly demarcates the individual juveniles who could be reformed into good individuals and those juveniles who have been formed as a criminal deficient of any chance for improvement.

So those innocent juvenile delinquents could be reformed and given another chance to restart their life in a good way and those juvenile offenders who commit heinous offences just with the presumption that they would not be punished harshly for the crimes just due to the reason that they fall short of the majority age as decided by the law.

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