Juvenile Justice System In India
About the Author :
Mayank Gupta is currently pursuing B.A.LLB from University School Of Law & Legal Studies,
Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University,Delhi. Currently in his Second Year, Mayank wishes
to specialize in Business Law and realize his dreams of coming with a whole new start up of his
own in the field of law.
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Abstract of the essay
The Juvenile Justice System, Initially introduced in India to protect the exploitation of its most
important resource.youth has failed to suffice the main motive it aimed at. It has been observed
from times immemorial that youth, at a very small age get influenced by some negative energies
which force them to take some steps which though of are criminal intent but are done without
any deep knowledge.]But lately it has been observed that this system has many loopholes hidden
within it. This system paves way for many criminals though legally of age of minority but
mentally completely mature to escape the harsh punishments under the Indian Legal system and
exploit the fundamental intent of this system.
Juvenile Justice System In India
Joe E. Lewis said: “You are young only once, and if you work it right, once is enough”.It is
important to note that the priceless resource of any country is its human resource. There is no
other resource that matches the human being, because mankind is the foundation or the corner
stone of any development and civilization. Out of the human intellect a nation is built.
Herbert Hoover said: "Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die." It is a
worldwide accepted fact and goes without any doubt that youth is the real driving force of the
country. The old men though have kept the foundations of the country, It is the youth that has to
build the country and fostering and nurturing this resource is very important for every country.
Children’s rights require special protection and call for continuous improvement of the situation
of children all over the world, as well as for their development and education in conditions of
peace and security, profoundly concerned that the situation of children in many parts of the
world remains critical as a result of inadequate social conditions, natural disasters, armed
conflicts, exploitation, illiteracy, hunger and disability, and convinced that urgent and effective
national and international action is called for.
It is both, responsibility and duty of the government as well as the society to provide the youth
with suitable grounds and thereby bringing about a matured and responsible population for the
coming generation to lead a better life.
Juvenile delinquency is one of the most serious problems of our times. It basically means anti-
social behavior. The different forms of delinquent behavior include loitering, loafing, pick-
pocketing, stealing, gambling, sexual offences like eve teasing, etc. The rate of delinquency is
rising very fast all over the world and one of the main suspected reasons could be the negligence
of parents. In order to prevent this increase in delinquency, the Juvenile Judicial System was set
up in India.
Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 was enacted by our parliament in order to provide care, protection,
treatment, development and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles and for the
adjudication of certain matters relating to, and disposition of, delinquent juveniles as a uniform
system of juvenile justice mechanism throughout our country. Under the Act of 1986, Section
2(a) defined the term juvenile as a "boy who has not attained the age of 16 years and a girl who
has not attained the age of 18 years" but later on the parliament enacted Juvenile Justice Act,
2000 and the age bar was raised to 18 years for both girl and boy. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000
lays down that juvenile in conflict with law may be kept in an observation home while children
in need of care and protection need to be kept in a children home during the pendency of
proceedings before the competent authority. This provision is in contradistinction with the earlier
Acts which provided for keeping all children in an observation home during the pendency of
their proceedings, presuming children to be innocent till proved guilty. The maximum detention
could be imposed on a juvenile is for 3 years remand to Special Home irrespective of the gravity
of offence committed by him and JJ Act, 2000 immunes the child who is less than 18 Years of
age at the time of the commission of the alleged offence and from trial through Criminal Court or
any punishment under Criminal Law in view of Section 17 of the Juvenile Act.
A GLIMPSE OF JUVENILE LAW IN OTHER COUNTRIES:
1. In U.S.A age to determine juvenility varies from state to state, in most of the states it is
18 years but in few it is 17 years and 16 years respectively. Many states permit execution
of juvenile of 16 years for murder as an adult and could be tried by criminal courts for
prosecution and punishment as adults as per the gravity of the alleged offence. Till now
many juvenile offenders have been executed under capital punishment but in 2005
Supreme Court of U.S.A in the case of Roper v. Simmons, held that it is unconstitutional
to impose capital punishment for crimes committed while under the age of 18.
2. In U.K child between 10 to 18 years becomes criminally responsible for his action and be
tried by the Youth Court and could be tried in an adult court as per the gravity of the
3. In France no criminal charge can be brought against a child up to the age of ten years;
and for child between ten to thirteen years of age, only educational penalties such as
placing in a specialized Centre or home are to be given, while between thirteen to sixteen
years of age, minors will get only half of the adult sentence. Lastly, between sixteen to
eighteen years of age, person would be remanded to Criminal Court and plea of juvenility
can be set aside.
The basic rule which is followed by most of the countries legislature is that the plea of juvenility
would be set aside and he would be tried in a criminal court if the crime committed by the minor
is a heinous one such as murder, rape etc.
Setting a simple number as an age to signify maturity isn’t the solution. Minor laws vary across
the world. In the UK, 16-year-olds are allowed to drink beer and cider, have sex and be detained
for longer periods for more heinous crimes. They are allowed to make most of their decisions
and even provided with contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies.The USA defines its
minors as under-18, but the laws vary from state to state. They however have punishments like
life imprisonment for serious acts which are ‘unspeakably sad’ even if they are committed by a
human being who is a ‘work in progress’
CURRENT SCENARIO IN OUR NATION:-
In our country the time has come in order to bring some reform in the Juvenile laws as there is a
steep rise in serious crimes involving youth of 16 – 18 years of age and they very well know that
below 18 years is the 'getaway pass' for them from the criminal prosecution. The punishment
should be made a bit deterrent in order to inject the feeling of fear in the mind of the criminal.
The recent rape case of "Nirbhaya" has caused utter dismay, concern and outrage amongst the
people. The gruesome act of brutalizing her with an iron rod was done none other but by a
juvenile and he has been sentenced for a period of 3 years as per Section 15 of JJ Act, 2000 as
per our law for juveniles. The principal ought to have been followed for trying juvenile offenders
is that Juvenility should be decided as per the state of mind and not just the state of body.
The girl's parents challenged the Juvenile Justice Act seeking a criminal trial against the 18-year-
old saying he was an equal participant in the assault and rape of their daughter.
Defending the panel’s recommendations to reduce the age for juvenility, Prof Shanta Sinha,
chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, argued ‘it will be
difficult to reduce the age bar as India has signed and ratified the UN convention on the rights of
the child where the age limit for juveniles has been fixed at 18 years’. A knee-jerk reaction like
this could actually do more harm than good and bending to populist sentiment is very dangerous
for a government. What the law should instead do is provide the scope to judge each case on its
own merit instead of setting ceilings to define minors or majors. That is the only way to create an
environment where juveniles get the true treatment they deserve.(*health.india.com Delhi gang
rape: Why we need to rethink our juvenile laws Nirmalya Dutta February 1, 2013)
The heinous crimes such as rape, murder etc. are crimes which totally destroys the moral of the
victim's family and if it's a rape then it's a lifelong stigma for the girl and her family member.
Many offenders of these crimes walk free after serving a minimal period of sentence after being
proven juvenile as per the so called records. Thousands of cases go unreported in our country
just because of the stigma attached and most of the time victims are shunned from the society
and are left unmarried just because that she was not physically strong enough in order to fight for
her freedom from the clutches of the person or persons. The juvenile who commits crime of this
gravity should not be left to walk free after serving maximum of 3 years that too in special home.
It is high time that the law should be amended on the same footing of countries like U.S, U.K etc.
where a juvenile is also tried in a criminal court depending on the gravity of the offence
committed by the minor.
Law can never be specifically defined as it is dynamic and needs to change with time. This also
applies to the different rules set in the Indian Legal System, especially the Juvenile Justice
Act,2000 too.It is the need of the hour to change the age of juvenility as it has proved to be a
very big loop hole in a desperate try to save the future's nation which is unintentionally giving
immunity to many delinquents who purposely take the advantage of this provision under
Juvenile Justice Act. It is time that Juvenile Justice Act changes its policy.This can be simply
achieved by leaving it to the discretion of the judges to decide the immunity or the punishment to
be given to a juvenile shall be decided on the basis of the mental as well as the maturity level of
a minor and the gravity of the offence committed by the minor rather than a simple set age of 18
years which seemed to be fit earlier.