As it was well said by the former Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru that “children are like buds in a garden and should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nations and citizens of tomorrow”. The above mention quote means that the children of the nation are its valuable assets and they must get proper care and protection for their development. The Indian constitution aimed at the developed society and in accordance with that it has provided various rights to children. Such as the right to education, the right against exploitation, and many more. But India is one of those countries whose maximum population of minors live on streets who may or may not have families or neglected by society because of some of the other reasons.
Due to this large number of children forced or went on the wrong path for livelihood and results in breaking of the law boundaries. Afterward, if they are punished the same as an adult at such a sensitive age then there is quite a higher chance that they will become great criminals of the future. So, keeping in mind the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 is introduced and later amended in 2015.
Definition of Juvenile
The word Juvenile is explained under section 2(l) of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act, 2015 which states that “a person who has not completed eighteen years of age”. In simple words, we can say that juvenile means who is childish or immature.
The special law was passed in the year 1986 for juveniles which were later amended and are termed as Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000. This act was later amended in the year 2015 after the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape Case and in force on 15th January 2016.
The juvenile justice act, 2015 deals with two type of children:
First, the one who conflicts with the law and,
Second, the one who needs care and protection from the law.
Both these types of children have different aspects and there is a thin line difference in identifying between who needs care, protection, and who is guilty. The term juvenile conflicts with the law and is explained in section 2(m) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 which states that any child has alleged or committed any offense and not completed the age of eighteen years on the day of commencement of offense which is punishable under Indian Penal Code, an offense like murder, rape and any such which are punishable.
The term juvenile in need of care and protection from the law is explained in section 2(n) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 which states the following-
- the child which is found without any home,
- the child who is working in forcefully as child labor or beggar and stay on streets,
- the child who is living with a person who is the guardian or not and is unfit, injured, threatening, killed, abuse, or involved in exploitation,
- the child who is of unsound mind or suffering from incurable disease and parents and guardian or weather on one is there to support,
- the child whose parents and guardian are unfit to look after and give better up bring,
- the child who don’t have parents and guardian and no one is willing to look after,
- the child who is missing and the parents or guardian are failed to found out,
- the child who is sexually abused, tortured, or exploited,
- the child who is under the influence of drugs or trafficking,
- the child who is abused for unconscionable gains,
- the child who is suffering from child marriage.
The juvenile who needs care and protection from the law. The age of 16-18 years is too much to handle all the above mention critical situations so society and law must provide care and protection to the child. In failing to do so the child will keep getting exploited, face harassment, and suffer from both mental and physical abuse.
Features of Juvenile Justice Act
- The act mainly focuses on the care and protection of the child. To ensure the safeguard of the child from exploitation, harassment, and abuse. Thereafter it’s the responsibility of the law.
- The act describes the uniform age for both the categories of the children i.e eighteen years.
- The act separates the child in need of care and protection and the child in conflict with the law for the better understanding of the circumstance presented in front of the court during the trial. This also assists the court to identify what is better for the child.
- Under this act, two separate committees work the one which deals with the child in need and protection of the law is the child welfare committee and the other one which deals with the child in conflict with the law is the juvenile justice board of India.
- In the year 2000, the act is amended in which child in care and protection is expanded and includes victims of armed conflict, secured from natural calamity, civil commotion, vulnerable and drug abuse.
- The amendment also outlines four restoration opinion for children which are children’s home and special home which also includes adoption, foster care, sponsorship, and aftercare.
- After the amendments to the juvenile just act, 2000 becomes the principal actors in the country. This act provides the form of a legal system and framework for the care, protection, treatment, and rehabilitation of children. All the above mention is aimed to provide a better future and healthy environment for the betterment of the child.
- In the year 2015, the act is amended again in which the age for a child in conflict with law is changed that is 16 to 18 years for a serious offense. Thus, the juvenile can be awarded 7 years of imprisonment.
Why there is a need for Amendment in The Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act, 2015?
The Delhi gang-rape case arise many questions in front of law in context with the juvenile system. This case put the question in front of the law that the juvenile who committed such a harsh crime doesn’t deserve any punishment. After this law is amended and the age of juvenile is dropped to 16 years. But still, the juvenile justice act needs more amendments.
If we compare the Indian juvenile system with other nations, we will see a huge difference country like the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Africa the minimum age of juvenile is between 6 to 12. Which also shows that the age groups except above mentioned will be tried in the court same as the adult in case of harsh crime. In countries like France where the juvenile age is dependent on the based upon the nature of the crime committed by the juvenile. India should consider this and adopt such strict laws from a country like France because India has a huge population of children and youth who at a very small age choose the wrong path.
In countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Canada if the juvenile commits or involve in harsh crimes like sexual abuse, murder, assault, robbery, rape, gang rape, drug offenses, serious bodily harms to anyone, child abuse leading to death and firearms offenses then the juvenile will be treated as an adult in front of the court. But, here in India still there are no such provisions related to the detailed explanation of in which cases the juvenile will be treated as an adult. This lack of detailing puts questions every time in front of the court during trials of different cases.
India needs more amendment to Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act, 2015, and needs a detailed explanation the who all categories of the juvenile will be treated as an adult in conflict with and who all need care and protection from the law.
Latest Case Laws under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015
The case of Ravi Kumar (juvenile in conflict with the law) v. the State of Rajasthan is filed under section 306 of IPC. The question in front of the court that they will grant bail to juvenile by keeping in mind that if the juvenile will stay with criminally minded people then it will affect his mental health. Which can also result in adverse effects on his morale to and that is not good for the future of the child and his family.
In the case of Anil Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh is filed under the offense which is punishable under section 376 (2) (f) of IPC. In this case, the court found the juvenile is guilty and sentence him to send a special shelter home for rehabilitation for one year. But, now after the amendment, the age of majority is re-established and in keeping it in mind court disqualified the sentence and change the period from one year to three years of rehabilitation in a special shelter home. This step is taken under section 15(1) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
A country like India where the maximum of its population is still illiterate, poor, and fail to fulfil their basic needs. This population also includes minors of the country who are tomorrow’s future but they can only do this if they get proper guidance. Maximum children focus on earning money because their parents or guardian force them to do that. Due to this some of the children choose the wrong path for the same and start mobilizing with evils of the society who use to threaten, exploit, harass, and torture, etc. the child for the betterment. Maximum children start to see the world with hate rate and this also disturbs their mental health. At the age at which they need to play and learn new things, they go through this pain. This destroys the mental inner peace of the child.
Juvenile Justice Act is introduced to ensure the care and protection and rehabilitate the conflicted child. This act is for the betterment of the children and for their bright future. To show them the right path in life nor to misguide them. This act provides every possible aspect to rehabilitate the conflicted child.
Every child has the right to life, education, and freedom but sometimes children taken those steps or went on the wrong path which not good for them as well as for society and it leaves a huge impact on society at larger. Government, society, and law all these aimed for the developed country but it can only down when we teach our children what is right and what is wrong for them and others because they are the future assets of the country. Government introduces many programs for the betterment of the children and many NGO’s are also working in the field of child care and protect such as Prayas Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Society which runs the number of shelter home across Delhi and help the children who are in seak of care and protection.