This article is dealing with the issues and challenges in determining the actual age of juvenile and the various causes which triggers the juvenile to get involved in such delinquent acts including biological, environmental and societal causes. The problem of delinquency among juveniles is at a rise. The past few years have seen not only a steady increase in the number of juvenile offenders and seriousness in the offences committed, along with the changes occurring in the rate of juvenile offenders, also there are various changes occurring in the Juvenile Justice Act from 1986 to 2015. The most recent amendment was happened after the brutal case of assault and rape on 16th December 2012, in which one of the accused was alleged to be minor. After which there is a complete change in the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 and led to various changes in various provisions to enhance punishment to juvenile, in which one of the change is regarding the age of the juvenile, which allows for juveniles in conflict with law in the age group 16 – 18 involved in heinous offence to be tried as adults, which is in force from 15 January, 2016.
Child progress includes the botanical, intellectual and spiritual changes that occur in human birth and the conclusion of adolescence, as the individual autonomy. Children across the world develop at different rates and develop different views. They develop their ability to think and build their own views regarding society and other issues, they develop their individual thoughts and develop a tendency of making comparison of self with others. They demand their separate space and identity from parents hence these are the normal changes and development of a child or we can use another term as juvenile. But the problem arises when any child develops delinquent ability and gets into any legal proceedings, commonly called juvenile delinquency – a term used to describe illegal actions by a juvenile. This term is broad in range and can include everything from minor acts or violations like cheating in board exam to major and severe crimes like burglary, murder and other violent actions.
In India, the first legislation dealing with children in conflict with law or children committing crimes was the Apprentice Act, 1850. It provides that children under the age of 15 years found to have committed petty offences will be founded as apprentices. Hence, the reformatory Schools Act, 1897 came into existence stating children above the age of 15 years sentenced to imprisonment would be sent to reformatory cells. Later with independence, our parliament enacted the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 to provide care, protection and development to juveniles. It was an act which brought unity throughout the country. According to section 2a of the Act, a boy is a juvenile until attained the age of 16 years and a girl who has not attained the age of 18 years but later the age has been extended up to 18 years for both boys and girls by the parliament under the Juvenile Justice(care and protection) Act, 2000.
Now, in the present legislation according to section 2k of Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act, 2015 the age of juvenile will be considered below 16 for both boys and girls. After some cases of heinous crimes committed by the minors.
This article covered the issues and challenges in determining the age of juvenile and the various contributing factors to delinquency based on the various doctrinal research, journals and online data.
- Life events and social conditions contributing to delinquency and ways to overcome.
Children are treated as a gift from God as well as national strength. We as individuals, parents, guardians and society as a whole have a duty that children should be allowed and provided opportunities to grow up in a healthy socio- cultural environment for their better life and development. It is the responsibility of the nation to provide equal opportunity to all children during the period of their growth by which inequality may decrease and social justice can be ensured. Children must be respectful towards others and have good qualities among them. However, there are certain causes because of which children do not follow settled social and legal dictum. Such children are more often than not involved in criminal behavior due to the following reasons.
Domestic violence: It is one of the leading factors contributing to delinquency. When a child is subjected to violence, they will turn into violent people. Children subjected to violent actions, or those who witness it to others, are more likely to act out their fears and frustration. They often acquire a not caring attitude and this allows them to get into trouble more easily.
Violence in their social circles: If the neighbors with which a child lives is violent the children will have a tendency to be more prone to delinquency. “Most of the people state this as “street survival methods” because the child gets into difficulty and as a way to get out of the same area gang members and violent people, in many cases, when you remove the child from this type of situation , their tendency for delinquent actions is removed”.
Poor educational standards: The type of education or the school that a child attends may also contribute to their delinquency. Overcrowded and underfunded schools tend to lack discipline and order. This can be seen in the schools which lead children to act more defensively. Parents involve in school activities of children which is a great cause for delinquent activities. When an adult is active in the lives of a child, that child is more prone to perform well in school and social surroundings because they know that the adults will see their actions.
Poor school attendance: Poor school attendance is one of the top factors contributing to delinquency. School is not only a place to learn and grow, in fact it structures routine that provides children with a goal to accomplish each day. Those Children who are not learning this type of routine are reducing their good habits as they have lot of free time that can be used to learn about new things, failure to accept the routine of attending school actually inculcate in children that they do not have to comply with societal norms and that they can do as they please.
Peer pressure: As similar to neighborhood pressure, peer pressure from direct acquaintances can have an effect on how a child reacts to bad situations. If all nearby people are doing delinquent acts, the child may obviously do the same thing. The solution to such problems is that one must involve with their child activities on a daily basis in order to know their friends, their family and company. This not only instills confidence in your child to do the right thing but also can help parents to keep their children away from bad influences.
Socioeconomic factors: Juvenile delinquency is more common in poorer neighborhoods. All nearby areas are not exempt from such activities, it is considered that such activities are performed more in those areas where people are thought to commit crime for happiness. Crimes like robbery or theft may be a consequence of some need. The only thing which may help to solve such a problem is that children of such areas must get what they want means their requirements must be fulfilled and they must realize that crime is not the solution to everything.
Substance abuse: Substance abuse in home or by the child is a very common cause for delinquency. Children who are exposed to substance abuse often do not have the necessities they need to thrive and are forced to find these necessities in other ways. Those who have certain habits on a thing they also do crime to fulfil their requirement. Dependent on a substance may also need to commit crimes to sustain their habit. To help these children counseling and treatment are the only remedy for this type of situation. This kind of problem may abuse them by allowing them to commit crimes that they should not.
Lack of moral guidance: Parental and adult influence is the most important factor in deterring delinquency. When a parent or adult interacts with the child and shows them what is acceptable behavior and what is considered wrong, the child is more likely to act in a way that is not delinquent. A good company is very necessary for a child so that they can understand the difference between right and wrong. If a child has done a wrong act, it does not decide that their lives are finished. Being a caretaker, one must show them the right path. Once must give them certain knowledge regarding the same or may hire a juvenile criminal lawyer by which they can understand right or wrong. Once they have gone through this process, as a caregiver, you can begin to change the influence in the child’s life so that they can start fresh and go into adulthood with a clean state.
Issues and challenges in determining the age of Juvenile.
Determining the age is a complex issue in the juvenile justice system. Several judgments have been made but still no conclusion can be found out.
In Jaya Mala v. Home Secretary, Government of J&K the supreme court held that the age as determined by medical examination cannot be evidentiary proof for the same. It is only a belief of the doctor and a margin of 2 years could be on either side. In another well-known case, Bhoop Ram v. State of UP The court held that when conflict arises between documentary evidence and medical report, the former will prevail and thus a conclusion can be made that juvenile justice is documentary proof. Such proof can be made out easily such as any license and thus medical examination cannot be held to be evidentiary.
Delhi High Court dismissing challenge against age-determination procedure under Juvenile Justice Rules (R k Tarun Vs. Union of India and Others W.P(C)1308/2013) pronounced on November 19 2015
Delhi High Court rejected a challenge against the Rules i.e., state made rules and the model rules, which provides the procedure to be followed for determination of age of a juvenile in conflict with law. Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, gave clarification that it is compulsory for the state to follow the procedure given in the state rules which gives priority to date of birth certificate from the school first attended; second preference to the birth certificate given by a local body and third preference to the matriculation or equivalent certificates.
The Rules challenged Rule 12(3) of the Model Rules (Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 ) gives priority to Matriculation or equivalent certificates; then to date of birth certificate from the school first attended and third preference to birth certificate given by a local body and Rule 12(3) of the State Rules (Delhi Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2009) gives priority to date of birth certificate from the school first attended; second to the birth certificate given by a local body and third preference to the matriculation or equivalent certificates.
However, no statute can be struck down only on the fact that it is made unjustified by the court. In this case the plaintiff made a point that the birth certificate issued by the local body is the most authenticated document and must be given priority while doing age determination and thus, the procedure provided under Model Rules and the State rules, giving priority to the rest of the documents, must be declared unreasonable. The court rejected the plea of the plaintiff, as unable to show how such Rules are getting violated by Article 14. As per the view of the plaintiff he might be true, but no statute can be declared as void only on the fact that the court made it unreasonable. It is required for the parliament to keep in mind the needs of the people and what is good and bad for them basically they must think about their welfare. This is required for the state to follow state rules. Plaintiff also argued that there is no uniformity in the procedure of determining age in both the rules and resultant is such that they have created a lot of confusion as views of the courts etc. with regards to preference of the documents on determining juvenile age is different. While the court dismissed this contention saying that this is no ground to challenge the rules. Further stated that these rules must be followed and in event of huge confusion remedies are available to the parties but on such matters, they cannot be neglected. Thus, the court said that a slight change regarding preference to the documents cannot make the rules wrong and the same must be followed for determining the age of juvenile. Delhi High Court also dismissed the challenge against age determination procedures and when a petition was filed by BCCI, the court held that age determination tests performed by BCCI cannot be said as vague.
Further while determining the age of juveniles, court faces several problems such as original documents are not available to them, the valid proofs or documents cannot be seen of those children who either are orphan or living at the roadsides and due to fraudulent act of the parents as they mostly change the date of birth in birth certificate of their children either when they born or getting admissions in the school. Thus, the court faces following issues and challenges in determination of juvenility.
According to Constitution of India, age of juvenile is 16-18 to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crime and for determining age of minor different methods are there such as daily procedures (medical tests, documents such as birth certificate etc.). The government is recognizing different departments who would be able to look at valid and conclusive proof of the identity of orphan and road-side children and those who have no such identities would be given the same for a proper record. As justice is made for saving lives, so when it becomes difficult to prove someone guilty the valid identity is required. Otherwise a minor can be punished without guilt and which would be a great failure for the justice delivery system and people start losing their belief in the Indian legal system.
Other issue is such that when a crime has been committed by any juvenile and they have been sent to reformatory centers so they must be behaved with such a way that they would be able to reform their thinking and mind set so that their behavior can be changed and then they would be called as responsible citizens of the country and can live their lives happily with respect in the society.
The objective of the whole juvenile justice system must be reformation of the thinking of the juvenile and for the same they must be sent to rehabilitation. by this way they will be motivated, promote their nation and can play an ideal role for the citizens of the society on the other hand.