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
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
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.