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May 23, 2018

Essay - Juvenile Justice Act 2015

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Juvenile Justice Act 2015 - Anticipating Better Juvenile Disposal

  • The meaning of the term juvenile. 
  • The transformation of Juvenile Justice Act of India. 
  • Significant changes in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. 
  • This law is criticised by child rights and women rights activists. 
  • Supreme Court is monitoring the implementation of the act.
The history of juvenile justice in India goes back to 1980s when the Juvenile Justice Act 1986 was enacted by the Parliament to provide care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles. 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 girl who has not attained the age of 18 years". Meanwhile, India signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), 1989, which treated a person as a juvenile who is below 18 years of age.

The juvenile system in India contemplates the legal response with respect to two categories of children, namely those who are 'in conflict with law' can individual under the age of 18 years who is accused of committing an offence and those 'in need of care and protection' (children from deprived and marginalised sections of the society as well as those with different needs and vulnerabilities).

The juvenile justice policy in India is structured around the constitutional mandate prescribed in Articles 15(3), 39 (e) & (f), 45 and 47, as well as several international covenants, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the UN standard minimum rules for administration of juvenile justice.

This paved the way for an amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 in India and hence, Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was enacted. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 is the primary legal framework for juvenile justice in India.

This act has been further amended in 2006 and 2010. In the wake of Delhi gang rape (16th December, 2012) the law suffered a nationwide criticism owing to its helplessness against crimes where juveniles get involved in heinous crimes like rape and murder. In 2015, responding to the public sentiment, both the Houses of Parliament in India further amended the bill that lowered the juvenile age to 16 and proposed adult-like treatment for juveniles accused of heinous crimes.

The Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014 was passed by the Parliament in December, 2015 and it became the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. It came into force from 15th January, 2016.

Some of the provisions of the act are as follows
  • The act replaces the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. It addresses children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection. 
  • The act permits juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years to be tried as adults for heinous offences. Also, any 16-18 years old, who commits a lesser i.e. serious offence, may be tried as an adult only if he is apprehended after the age of 21 years.
  • Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) and Child Welfare Committees (CWC) will be constituted in each district.
Child rights activists and women rights activists have called the act a regressive step and have criticised it. It is also argued that the provision of trying a juvenile committing a serious or heinous offence as an adult based on date of apprehension could violate the Article 14 and Article 21.

To conclude, it is to be taken into consideration that there was never any doubt that the progressive juvenile law enacted in 2000 was not being implemented properly and that there was a need to revisit its provisions. In many ways, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is a forward-looking and comprehensive enactment that provides for dealing with children in conflict with law and those requiring care and protection.

The government believes that the provision will help to address public disgust over the perception that young offenders are getting away with light punishment after committing crimes such as murder and rape. However, the implementation is a very serious concern and Supreme Court of India is monitoring implementation of the act in judicial proceedings.

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Rehablitation act of restoring something to its original state
  • Delinquent tending to commit crime
  • Ratify sign or give formal consent to
  • Contemplate observe or examine
  • Vulnerabilities quality of being hurt very easily
  • Mandate an official order to do something
  • Paved to make progress easier
  • Incompliance the act of yielding easily
  • Repeal to summon back or recall
  • Heinous wicked or abominable
  • Apprehended arrested or taken into custody
  • Regressive returning to a less developed state.
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