Children's school experiences may contribute in many ways to disproportionate
minority contact with the juvenile justice system, writes Paul Hirschfield. For
example, research in the United States of America shows that black students who
violate school rules are more often subject to out-of-school suspensions, which
heighten their risk of arrest and increase the odds that once accused of
delinquency, they'll be detained, formally processed, and institutionalized for
Similar patterns can be noticed in India as well, as
per multiple researches it has been established that the underprivileged and
needy children are more likely to commit crimes and be charged for the same when
compared to their well-off counterparts.
Hirschfield examines two types of processes through which schools may contribute
to disproportionate minority contact with the justice system. Micro-level
processes affect delinquents at the individual level, either because they're
distributed unevenly by race/ ethnicity or because they affect impoverished
youth more adversely. For example, suspensions can be a micro-level factor if
biased principals suspend more impoverished youth than their more well-off
Macro-level processes, by contrast, operate at the classroom,
school, or district level. For example, if predominantly impoverish school's are
more likely than predominantly rich school's to discipline students by
suspending them, poor students overall will be adversely affected, even if each
school applies suspensions equitably within its own jurisdiction.
Juvenile delinquency is a major problem in India, with an increasing number of
cases reported every year. The Indian legal system has a comprehensive framework
in place to address this issue, including laws, policies, and institutions. This
essay will discuss the Indian jurisprudence on juvenile delinquency, including
the legal framework, landmark cases, and the challenges facing the system.
The legal framework for juvenile justice in India is governed by the Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The Act provides for the
care, protection, and rehabilitation of children who are in conflict with the
law or who are in need of care and protection.
It also establishes institutions
such as Juvenile Justice Boards, Child Welfare Committees, and Special Juvenile
Police Units to enforce the provisions of the Act. The Act also provides for the
establishment of observation homes, special homes, and places of safety for the
rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.
There have been several landmark cases in India that have shaped the
jurisprudence on juvenile delinquency. One such case is the J.J. vs State of
Haryana case, in which the Supreme Court held that a juvenile cannot be
sentenced to death or life imprisonment, even for the most heinous crimes. The
court held that the purpose of the juvenile justice system is not to punish but
to reform, and that a child who commits a crime should be given an opportunity
to reform and reintegrate into society.
Another important case is the Gaurav Jain vs Union of India
case, in which the
Delhi High Court held that the law should not discriminate against juvenile
offenders based on the nature of the crime. The court held that every juvenile
offender should be given an opportunity for rehabilitation and reintegration,
regardless of the severity of the crime.
Challenges Facing the System:
Despite the legal framework and landmark cases, the Indian juvenile justice
system faces several challenges. One of the main challenges is the lack of
infrastructure and resources, including trained staff, observation homes, and
rehabilitation centers. There is also a lack of awareness and education among
parents, teachers, and the general public about the causes and consequences of
Another challenge is the delay in the disposal of cases, which often leads to
the prolonged detention of juvenile offenders. This can have a negative impact
on their mental and emotional well-being and may increase the risk of
recidivism. There is also a need to improve the rehabilitation services provided
to juvenile offenders, including vocational training, education, counselling,
and employment opportunities.
If summarised, the Indian legal system has a comprehensive framework in place to
address juvenile delinquency. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of
Children) Act, 2015, provides for the care, protection, and rehabilitation of
children who are in conflict with the law or who are in need of care and
protection. Landmark cases such as J.J. vs State of Haryana
and Gaurav Jain vs
Union of India
have shaped the jurisprudence on juvenile delinquency.
there are several challenges facing the system, including the lack of
infrastructure and resources, delay in the disposal of cases, and the need for
better rehabilitation services. These challenges need to be addressed to ensure
that the Indian juvenile justice system provides better protection for
vulnerable children and reduces the incidence of juvenile delinquency.
Juvenile delinquency, in its most common forms, is an equal opportunity endeavour.
White, black, Latino, Asian, and Native American youth all commit delinquent
albeit with varying frequency. But delinquents face very different risks of
legal consequences depending on their racial, ethnic or economic backgrounds[ii].
As Robert Sapolsky stated and something that is true with respect to India's
current situation, "Juvenile justice system is probably the area that's most
ripe for reform, in the nice liberal sense of word simply because there's no
getting around the fact that a teenage brain is not an adult brain[iii] "
Juvenile delinquency, especially in India is an extremely sensitive and
multifaceted point of discussion, and in itself an issue that is constantly on a
rise. Crimes in themselves are extremely unfortunate, but one's committed by
juveniles highlight the impending complications within these society at large.
Looking inwards, in recent times, juveniles we're found to be committing crimes
of extremely heinous nature including but not limited to Murder, gang rape, etc.
Such acts in themselves are likely to disrupt the societal solidity, but
commencement of such heinous crimes by young individuals and teenagers is likely
to transform the whole fabric of the society as we know, increased likeliness of
which may create extreme unrest and civil disobedience.
As Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi commented during his speech on July
29th, "The whole world is looking at India's youth with hope. Because you are
the growth engine of the country and India is the world's growth engine."
Although true, this points well towards the calamities that the world might end
up facing if India doesn't look to improve it's Juvenile justice system in the
India is a vital link in the global supply chain, and if the youth
of the country keep up with such socially disruptive behaviour, not just India,
the world might end up suffering thanks to an inadequate and outdated system of
preventing and handling juvenile delinquencies. In its essence, Juvenile
delinquency is a result of dynamic social process and failure of social and self
Regardless of the commission of an offence by children, the nature of the said
offence or the section of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) or other legislation that
it violates, their apprehension, detention, prosecution, penalty or
imprisonment, rehabilitation, and social integration shall be conducted.
Juvenile Justice Act, 2000
Indian jurisprudence on juvenile delinquency is governed by the Juvenile Justice
(Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, which is the primary legislation
for the care and protection of children in conflict with the law. The Act
provides for the establishment of specialized courts and child welfare
committees to deal with cases of juvenile delinquency.
Under the Act, a child who is below the age of 18 years and has committed an
offence is considered a juvenile in conflict with the law. The Act provides for
a child-friendly approach to the treatment of juvenile offenders and emphasizes
the need for their rehabilitation and reintegration into society as responsible
The Act provides for the establishment of Juvenile Justice Boards at the
district level, which are responsible for the trial and rehabilitation of
juvenile offenders. The boards consist of a magistrate and two social workers,
and their aim is to provide a child-friendly environment for the trial and
rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.
The Act also provides for the establishment of observation homes for the
temporary custody of juvenile offenders. These homes are required to provide
basic amenities and facilities for the care and protection of juvenile
offenders. The Act also provides for the establishment of special homes for the
long-term rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.
The Act emphasizes the need for rehabilitation programs for juvenile offenders,
which include counselling, education, and vocational training. The aim of these
programs is to enable juvenile offenders to reintegrate into society as
The Act also provides for the establishment of Child Welfare Committees, which
are responsible for the care and protection of children in need of care and
protection. The committees have the power to declare a child in need of care and
protection, and they can order the rehabilitation of such children.
The Indian legal system plays an important role in addressing juvenile
delinquency by providing a framework for the prevention and rehabilitation of
juvenile offenders. Here are some of the ways in which the legal system aims to
decrease juvenile delinquency in India:
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act:
The Juvenile Justice
(Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is a comprehensive legislation that
aims to provide for the care, protection, treatment, development and
rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection. The Act provides for
a specialized Juvenile Justice system to deal with cases of juvenile
- Juvenile Justice Board:
The Juvenile Justice Board is a specialized court
that is responsible for the trial and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. The
board consists of a magistrate and two social workers, and it aims to provide a
child-friendly environment for the trial and rehabilitation of juvenile
- Rehabilitation Programs:
The Juvenile Justice Act emphasizes the need for
rehabilitation programs for juvenile offenders. These programs aim to provide counselling, education, and vocational training to juvenile offenders so that
they can reintegrate into society as responsible citizens.
- Child Welfare Committees:
The Child Welfare Committees are responsible for
the care and protection of children in need of care and protection. They have
the power to declare a child in need of care and protection, and they can order
the rehabilitation of such children.
- Child line:
Childline is a 24-hour toll-free helpline for children in need of
care and protection. The helpline provides counselling, rescue and
rehabilitation services for children in distress.
- National Commission for Protection of Child Rights:
The National Commission
for Protection of Child Rights is a statutory body that is responsible for the
protection and promotion of child rights in India. The commission has the power
to investigate and monitor cases of violation of child rights, including cases
of juvenile delinquency.
In essence, the Indian legal system provides a comprehensive framework for the
prevention and rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents. Through specialized
courts, rehabilitation programs, and child welfare committees, the legal system
aims to provide a child-friendly environment for the trial and rehabilitation of
juvenile offenders. The focus is on rehabilitating juvenile delinquents and
reintegrating them into society as responsible citizens.
There have been several landmark cases on the juvenile justice system in India,
which have helped to shape the legal framework for the care and protection of
children in conflict with the law.
Here are some of the most notable cases:
- Gopalan Nair vs State of Kerala[iv] (1974):
In this case, the Supreme Court
of India held that the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, which
provide for probation of adult offenders, cannot be applied to juvenile
offenders as they are governed by a separate legal framework.
- Sheela Barse vs State of Maharashtra[v] (1983):
In this case, the Supreme
Court of India held that a child in need of care and protection is entitled to
the protection of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which guarantees the
right to life and personal liberty.
- Ratan Singh vs State of Punjab[vi] (1984):
In this case, the Supreme Court
of India held that a juvenile offender cannot be sentenced to death or life
imprisonment as such sentences are prohibited under the Juvenile Justice Act.
- Murli S. Deora vs Union of India[vii] (2001):
In this case, the Supreme
Court of India directed the government to set up a separate juvenile justice
system for the care and protection of children in conflict with the law.
- Salil Bali vs Union of India[viii] (2013):
In this case, the Supreme Court of
India held that the right to legal aid is an important right for children in
conflict with the law and that they should be provided with legal assistance at
every stage of the legal process.
- Juvenile Justice Committee vs State of Tamil Nadu[ix] (2015):
In this case,
the Supreme Court of India held that the detention of children in observation
homes should be a measure of last resort and that the government should focus on
their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Statistical Analysis of Juvenile Delinquency in India
Juvenile delinquency is a complex issue in India, and obtaining accurate
statistical data on the subject is often challenging due to the lack of
comprehensive data collection mechanisms. However, there are some official and
unofficial sources that provide statistical data on juvenile delinquency in
India. Here are some key statistics on juvenile delinquency in India:
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of India has reported that in 2019,
a total of 35,190 cases of crimes committed by juveniles were registered in the
country, which accounted for 1.03% of all the reported crimes. This marks a
decrease of 4.4% in the number of cases compared to the previous year.
- The majority of crimes committed by juveniles in 2019 were theft
(23.2%), causing hurt (19.7%), and burglary (16.2%). Crimes against
women accounted for 8.9% of the total cases.
- The NCRB data shows that most juvenile offenders are male (88.7%) and in the
age group of 16-18 years (67.7%). Only 2.2% of the juvenile offenders were below
the age of 12 years.
- The NCRB data also shows that the highest number of juvenile offenders were
from the state of Uttar Pradesh (19.1%), followed by Madhya Pradesh (11.7%) and
- According to the data compiled by the Child Rights and You (CRY)
organization, the number of juveniles in conflict with the law has been
steadily increasing over the years. In 2017-18, there were 2,82,171
juveniles who came in contact with the law in India, compared to
2,06,223 in 2015-16.
- A study by the National Law School of India University found that
poverty, lack of education, family problems, and peer pressure are some
of the main causes of juvenile delinquency in India.
While the statistical data on juvenile delinquency in India is limited, the
available data shows that it is a significant problem in the country. Addressing
the root causes of juvenile delinquency through education, family support, and
other interventions may help in reducing the number of cases.
Possible reasons for increasing Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile delinquency is a complex issue and there are several factors that
contribute to its increasing trend in India.
Some of the key reasons for the
increasing juvenile delinquency in India are:
Poverty is one of the main factors that contribute to the increasing
trend of juvenile delinquency in India. Children from poor families
are more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation, which can
lead to delinquent behaviour.
- Family Problems:
Family problems, such as neglect, domestic violence, and lack of
parental guidance, can lead to delinquent behaviour in children. In many
cases, children who come from broken families, or families with a history of
criminal behaviour, are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviour.
- Peer Pressure:
Peer pressure is another major factor that contributes to the
increasing trend of juvenile delinquency in India. Children who are
under peer pressure may be more likely to engage in risky and
- Lack of Education:
Lack of education is also a significant factor that contributes to
the increasing trend of juvenile delinquency in India. Children who
do not receive a proper education are more likely to engage in
delinquent behaviour, as they may not have the skills and knowledge to pursue other
- Substance Abuse:
Substance abuse, such as alcohol and drug addiction, is a
significant factor that contributes to the increasing trend of
juvenile delinquency in India. Children who are addicted to drugs or
alcohol may engage in delinquent behaviour to obtain drugs or money for drugs.
- Lack of Awareness and Access to Support Services:
Many children who engage in delinquent behaviour in India are not aware of the legal consequences of their
actions, and may not have access to support services that can help them deal
with the underlying causes of their behaviour.
Addressing the root causes of juvenile delinquency in India through education,
family support, and other interventions is necessary to address the issue.
Providing access to support services and awareness campaigns can also help in
preventing juvenile delinquency.
A Psychological Perspective on Juvenile Delinquency
From a psychological perspective, juvenile delinquency is viewed as a result of
various psychological, social, and environmental factors.
Here are some of the
key psychological perspectives on juvenile delinquency:
- Behavioural perspective:
The behavioural perspective suggests that delinquent
behaviour is learned through the environment and that it can be unlearned
through behaviour modification techniques. According to this perspective, a
child's behaviour is shaped by the rewards and punishments they receive from
- Cognitive perspective:
The cognitive perspective suggests that delinquent behaviour is the result of distorted thinking patterns and cognitive biases. For
example, a delinquent child may have a tendency to overestimate the rewards of
criminal behaviour and underestimate the risks and consequences.
- Social learning theory:
The social learning theory suggests that delinquent behaviour is learned through observation and imitation of others. According to
this theory, children learn criminal behavior from their environment, such as
peers, family members, and the media.
- Attachment theory:
Attachment theory suggests that the quality of the child's
attachment to their primary caregiver is an important factor in their
development. Children who have a secure attachment are more likely to develop
positive self-esteem and social skills, which can help prevent delinquent behaviour.
- Psychodynamic theory:
The psychodynamic theory suggests that delinquent behaviour is the result of unresolved psychological conflicts and unconscious
motives. According to this theory, a child's delinquent behavior may be a
manifestation of underlying psychological issues, such as trauma or abuse.
A psychological perspective on juvenile delinquency considers various factors
such as behaviour, cognition, social influence, attachment, and psychodynamic
factors. An understanding of these factors can help in identifying the root
causes of delinquent behaviour and developing appropriate interventions to
Suggestions and Conclusion
Here are some suggestions for the Indian Juvenile justice regime to improve the
current system and prevent juvenile delinquency:
- Strengthening the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act: The
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act should be strengthened to provide
better protection for juveniles and to ensure that they are treated fairly
and justly. This can include measures such as providing legal aid, counselling, and
rehabilitation services to juvenile offenders.
- Promoting awareness and education: There is a need for greater awareness
and education about the causes and consequences of juvenile delinquency
among parents, teachers, and the general public. This can be done through
awareness campaigns, workshops, and other educational programs.
- Early intervention and prevention: Early intervention and prevention
strategies should be developed to identify at-risk children and provide them
with the necessary support and services to prevent delinquent behavior. This
can include early childhood education, counseling, and mentorship programs.
- Strengthening the Child Protection System: The child protection system
needs to be strengthened to ensure that vulnerable children are protected
from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This can include measures such as
strengthening child welfare committees, establishing more children's homes
and shelter homes, and improving the adoption process.
- Strengthening the Rehabilitation System: The rehabilitation system for
juvenile offenders needs to be strengthened to provide them with the
necessary support and services to reintegrate into society. This can include
measures such as vocational training, education, counselling, and employment opportunities.
- Establishing Juvenile Justice Boards in all districts: Juvenile Justice
Boards should be established in all districts to provide a speedy trial to
the juvenile offenders. This will help in reducing the pendency of cases.
In conclusion, the Indian juvenile justice regime needs to be strengthened to
prevent juvenile delinquency and provide better protection for vulnerable
children. The suggestions above can help in achieving this goal by improving the
legal, social, and psychological support for juvenile offenders
- David Huizinga et al., Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Juvenile
Justice System: A Study of Differential Minority Arrest/Referral to Court in
Three Cities (Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
- Nancy Rodriguez, Hilary Smith, and Marjorie S. Zatz, "Youth is Enmeshed
in a Highly Dysfunctional Family System: Exploring the Relationship among
Dysfunctional Families, Parental Incarceration, and Juvenile Court Decision
Making," Criminology 47 (2009): 177�207, https://doi/10.1111/j.17459125.2009.00142.x;
Barry C. Feld, "Justice by Geography: Urban, Suburban, and Rural Variations
in Juvenile Justice Administration," Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology
82 (1991): 156�210.
- Robert Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford
University and a reserch associate with the institute of Primate Research at the
National Museum of Kenya.
- AIR 1973 SC 806
- 1983 AIR 378
- 1980 AIR 84
- 2001 Supp(4) SCR 650
- (2013) 7 SCC 705
Please Drop Your Comments