The Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) of India addresses measures for children who are in confrontation with the law. It also includes provisions for children’s care and protection. There are many such legislations concerned with children in India, which include the Pocso Amendment Bill (2012), Provision of Child Marriage Act (2006), The Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act (2005) and more.
Returning back to the topic, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2018 had been introduced in the Lok Sabha. Its aim is towards the amendment of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. This is key legislation in India that is also applicable for the IAS exam’s GS Paper-II.
Let’s learn more about Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, its salient features, and its positive and negative aspects in detail.
Salient Provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA), 2015
The following are some key points concerning the Juvenile Justice Act:
|Enactment Date:||December 31, 2015|
|Long Title:||An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to children alleged and found to be in conflict with the law, as well as children in need of care and protection, by catering to their basic needs through proper care, protection, development, treatment, and social re-integration, by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interests of children, and for their rehabilitation through processes and institutions provided.|
|Ministry:||Ministry of Women and Child Development|
|Enactment Date:||January 15, 2016|
Who is a Juvenile?
A juvenile is defined by law as someone under the age of 18.
- According to Indian law, any child under the age of seven cannot be convicted of any crime.
- Previously, the line between children in violation of the law and youngsters in need of care and protection was hazy, as both were referred to as juveniles.
- The terms “children in conflict with the law” and “children in need of care and protection” are defined in the modified law (2015 Act), making the distinction evident.
Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 – Positives
The 2015 JJA contains numerous positive aspects. It was enacted to address shortcomings in previous legislation. Among the many advantages of this Act are:
- There is a clear contrast between children who are in violation of the law and children who require protection and care.
- It requires the registration of all children’s homes, increasing transparency and efficiency in the system.
- Its goal is to reduce crime perpetrated by children aged 16 to 18.
- It delivers justice to the victims of such atrocities by including a provision for 16 to 18-year-olds to be tried as adults in cases of serious crimes.
Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 – Negatives
Certain disadvantages are also linked with the revised JJA. Some of the legal issues are described here.
- Many psychiatric studies highlight the vulnerability of youth aged 16 to 18 due to hormonal and physical changes. Consider offences committed at this age to be crimes and place them in adult prisons can do greater harm. In such circumstances, the kid will come into contact with professional criminals, which may jeopardise their rehabilitation.
- Some argue that treating juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 differently violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees every person the right to equality.
- India adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. This Convention requires that everyone under the age of 18 be treated as though they are a child. This is in violation of the modified statute, which provides for the treatment of 16- to 18-year-olds as adults.
- A psychological evaluation will be performed to determine whether or not the minor can be treated as an adult. This, however, is subjective and not totally scientific.
- The justification for including minors aged 16 to 18 in a separate category was based on statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Many people are sceptical of this data, and many of the cases were only in the FIR stage and under preliminary proceedings.