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High Time That We Reconsider Juvenile Justice

High Time That We Reconsider Juvenile Justice

The Courts have been firm in their approach to understand the purpose of law since the inception; and humbly putting forward, they have always looked into the past misinterpretations, if any. India has recognized the rights of children and ensured the safeguards of the same since a very long time. The Apprentices Act, 1850 was the first law enacted in India which dealt with the children in conflict with law.

It ensured that such children who committed petty crimes are treated as apprentices instead of being sent to the prison. After which a number of Act were drafted for the reformation of such minor offenders. This reform was better substantiated when in 1992 the government of India ratified The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child[1] which made it even more important to make a law that conforms to the conditions of the convention.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 was the result of the same.  The present act was amended first in 2015 and then 2021 to become Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021.

Notably, the intention of the State and the courts has always been in the favour of the children but is it not unfair on part of these minor offenders to take undue advantage of this noble intention?  The unfortunate event that took place in the Northeast Delhi's Welcome Area is heart-wrenching; but it is not the only event that took place in the history of juvenile offenders.

Cases like Hari Ram v state of Rajasthan[2] and Pratap Singh v state of Jharkhand[3] make it difficult for the actual victims to get justice and provide blanket Immunity to these offenders relying completely on their age and not the mental capacity of committing crime they happen to hold at this age. This in turn, denies justice to those who are in need and fails the purpose of law while providing unjustified recognition to rights of the offenders.

Salil Bali v Union of India[4] was undoubtedly a major reform in the present act which reduced the age of Juveniles under the act to be less than 16 and not 18 anymore. But the question that arises is whether such reforms have added to the civility of child offenders?

It is rather sickening to note that the most common crimes that child offenders indulge into are property crimes, drug and alcohol abuse, sex crimes and heinous crimes like robbery, homicide and murder. Here's what NCRB[5] found in 2018 on the types of crime done by such offenders {shown in the graph} 

Given the facts, I believe that the concept of children as is highlighted in the bible (Psalms 127:3) has maintained that children are a heritage of the lord but once evil makes home to such heritage, stains of blood are meant to be seen. In addition to this, it is my firm belief that where reform denies justice to the aggrieved, it will never do anything good for the society.

In such circumstances, Do let me know what's your say.


  2. (2009) 13 SCC 211
  3. (2005) 3 SCC 551
  4. (2013) 7 SCC 705

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