Understanding the Juvenile Justice System in India
By Geetika Gautam
Abraham Lincoln once said: “A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started … the fate of humanity is in his hands.”
Children are the greatest national resource, representing the nation and the coming future of the country.
Unfortunately, In the last few years, it has been observed that Juvenile delinquency(the participation of a minor in an illegal act) has increased significantly, especially from age fifteen to sixteen years, as per reports by National Crime Records Bureau(2019)
Early-life experiences, dominant masculinity, upbringing, economic havoc, lack of education, etc contribute a lot to the general tendency or the psychology behind the commitment of the crime.
Children under the age of six to ten are nowadays used as tools for carrying out unlawful or illegal activities, They can be lured and manipulated at a meager cost since the minds of the kids possess an innocent character.
India has a long history of providing separate treatment for juvenile offenders, The Indian Penal Code (1960) exempts children under the age of seven years from criminal responsibility and also exempts children between the ages of seven to twelve years because of unattained sufficient maturity of understanding to consequences of their delinquency.
It aimed to offer effects to the international responses towards the difficulty of Juvenile Justice by providing a consistent policy that protected the interests and rights of a Juvenile and that looked at care, treatment, rehabilitation, and development of a child.
With the recent subsequent emergence of the involvement of Juveniles in crime and developments in the international community, the Indian lawmakers were compelled to come forward with new, progressive, stricter laws for the concerned Juvenile system within the country. As an outcome, the Juvenile Justice act of 1986 then Juvenile Justice act of 2000 and latterly the Juvenile Justice act of 2015 was passed by the Parliament.
The Indian Parliament came up with a new law is known as “ Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection), 2015 replacing the existing juvenile laws and has introduced some remarkable changes, that Juveniles under the age group of sixteen to eighteen years should be tried as an adult.
This major addition to the Indian Legislation came after the horrendous incident of the “Nirbhaya Delhi Gang Rape Case” in December 2012, which shook the whole nation, starting many debates among the socialists and legal fraternity.
One of the main reasons for the debate was the involvement of the accused in the heinous crime like rape, who was just six months short to attain the age of eighteen years.
India has also made legal provisions, like the other countries that deal specifically and particularly with the rights and protection of juvenile offenders which seeks to tackle the intricacy of juvenile delinquency.
It focuses based on three main assumptions:-
- Young offenders shouldn’t be tried in courts, rather they ought to be corrected altogether in the simplest possible ways.
- They should not be punished by the courts, but they ought to get an opportunity to reform.
- A trial for a child in conflict with the law should be based on non-penal treatment through the communities based upon the social control agencies e.g. Observation Homes and Special Homes (Section 48 of the Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection) Act, 2015).
Children are the future resources of the country and must be transformed from negative to positive personalities. However, we have to bridge the wide gap between theory and practice, looking at past experiences.
The rising rates of juvenile crime have become a concerning issue for India and need to be focused upon. The government has laid various legislation and rules to prevent the incidents of juvenile crimes, but the existing laws on juveniles are not creating a deterrent impact on the juveniles.
The results are not fruitful and the legislative intent is not accomplished. Building a good infrastructure, efficient Juvenile Justice Administration becomes quite necessary with gaining a wider acceptance of needing the understanding of our society, sympathy, and practicing the laws.