The Act is a Central Act, which came into force on April 1, 2001, throughout the country. It is based on (i) provisions of the Indian Constitution; (ii) United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child, 1989; (iii) United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985(Beijing rules); (iv) United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juvenile deprived of their Liberty, 1990. This Act was introduced to “protect the interest and rights of the child [below the age of 18 years] from the exploitation and child abuse”. General Assembly of the United Nation on 20th November, 1989 adopted the Constitution on the Rights of the child wherein a set of standards which are followed by every State in securing the interest of the child. The Government of India, having rarified it on 11th December, 1992 and redrafted the existing law relating to juveniles. This Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation consisting of 70 Sections which was divided into five Chapters. This Act also neglected those problematic atmospheres in which children face problems and this act approach to the child friendly nature in the adjudication of matters in the best interest of children and for their ultimate rehabilitation through various institutions established under this enactment.
Meaning of Juvenile
According to the Section 2[k], “Juvenile or child” means a person who has not completed the age of eighteen years and engaged in the illegal activity i.e. prohibited by law, that child will be protected under this Act and sent to the Rehabilitation Centre as may be described by court. Under this act, children (including both boys and girls) who have under the age of eighteen years have immunity under the criminal law; children are sent to rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents instead of jail. This Act has separate provisions for trial, rehabilitation and social integration of juvenile offenders rather than sending them to prisons. But this criminal liability is differing from country to country. According to Section 2[d] of this Act, “child in need of care” shows that proper attention and care of the child related to many areas for instance; (a) if a child is found without any shelter or begging or working child or street child; (ii) a person who resides with those person or guardian who threatened to injure to him or her or abused or who neglected him or her; (iii) children who physically or mentally challenged and so on. All these kinds which are related to these conditions, those children who are below under the age of eighteen years are dealt under this Act.
Indian Constitutional Provisions
Under Indian Constitution some provisions laid down to protect the interest of child-
According to Article 15(3): States are allowed to make special provisions for children and women
According to Article 23: Trafficking of human beings and other similar forms of forced labor are prohibited and shall be punishable in accordance with the law
According to Article 24: restricted the employment in factories, mines and other hazardous occupations, children below the age of 14 years
In Article 45: It requires to the State that to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 6 years ( this has been amended up to the age of 14 years by 86th Constitutional Amendment Act in 2002 and made Right to Education a Fundamental Right).
Salient features of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
Some of the significant features of this Act which are concern for the law makers for care, treatment, protection and rehabilitation of children.
1.Execution of a child below 18 years Prohibited- It is prohibited that there shall be no death sentence or imprisonment for life for any offence committed by the children below eighteen years of age under Indian Penal Code.
2.Classification of children age wise for proper attraction- Offences committed by the different age groups of children viz, 7 to 12, 12 to 16, 16 to 18 have been made proper attention to their nature and status of crime committed by them and according to their age group they sent to Observation Homes which have been made by government which is given under Section 8 of this Act.
3.Separate trials for Children- There are separate trials for the children which have been provided under Section 18 of this Act. This trial provision is separated from criminal court trials. This was making to provide “Security for keeping the Peace and Good Behavior” towards children. Juvenile cannot be kept in police lock up or jail, there shall be putting efforts to release the juvenile on bail or probation. Enquiry to be completed within a period of four months from the date of commencement.
4.Establishment of Juvenile Police Units- According to Section 63 of this Act provides to handle the problems of juvenile crimes expeditiously a provision for the establishment of special juvenile police units has been made in every police station, which will be manned by trained officers to deal with the problems of juveniles in a friendly manner. These special police units may be created by in every district and city to co-ordinate and to upgrade the police treatment of the juveniles and the children.
Determination of Age
The apex court held that while calculating a person’s age, the day of his birth must be counted as a “whole day and any specified age in law is to be calculated as having been attained on the day preceding the anniversary of his birthday. A legal day commences at 12 O’ clock midnight and continues until the same hour of the following night”.
With the establishment of Juvenile Justice System, our Government took necessary steps for the benefit and to protect the interest if children in our country. Some of the essential Amendments given below-
Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill, 2005
This Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 29, 2005 to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. This Bill was introduced to amend the Principal Act, it aimed to provide a Juvenile Justice System for children in conflict with the law and need care and protection.
- This Bill seeks to amend the rehabilitation for the child through institutional and non- institutional approach. It also amend the concept of “juvenile in conflict with law”, it extend the area of relevant offences committed by those children who below the 18 years or under different age groups.
- The Bill excludes the police officer to inquiry and conduct the “Welfare Committee” to inquiry in the prescribed manner and if the child shall be found without the shelter of parents so that child can remain in the rehabilitation centre until he attains majority.
- This Bill adds the provision that minor/juvenile can be confined in special home which was established by the Government until he or she attains majority.
- The Bill also prohibits that to publish any information regarding that child i.e. name, address, visualization of his or her photo and others. If anyone does that thing, so he attracts penalty including punishment.
- The Central Government makes these rules regarding the juveniles which shall applied whole India until they make their own rules.
These are the amendments which were amended in this Bill regarding the protection of juveniles in India.
Juvenile Justice Bill 2015
The Government introduced this Bill in August 2014 and it came into force in 2005. In this Bill National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data said that the heinous crime rate was increased especially committed by 16 to 18 years of age groups. Bill provides that children between 16 to 18 years to be tried as adults for heinous crime and it divided into three different categories i.e. the petty offences, serious offences and heinous offences.
Key Features of this Bill
- Firstly, in this Bill accused who is below 16 years should present before the juvenile justice board and then the board will decide whether the accused to send the juvenile justice for trial as an adult or to send rehabilitation centre.
- Secondly, minor who have committed the heinous offence which is in a conflict with law, firstly, he tried as an minor until he attains the twenty one years, then after shall be punished with accordance of law for instance, the punishment can be one year, three year or shall be seven years of imprisonment or accordance with the law.
- It also includes that if any child found to be engaged in buying and selling any type of intoxicated or narcotic substance against a child it attracts penalty included imprisonment as prescribed in the law.
- To handle the cases related to Juvenile Justice Board to be constituted in every district to deal with children in conflict with the law. The board comprises if a Metropolitan Judge and Judicial Magistrate with two social workers along with women. And the inquiry of the case should be completed within a stipulated time period decided by the court.
What is POCSO ACT?
Under this act, death penalty will be given to those convicted who are of raping a child up to 12 years of age. Centre decided the minimum punishment of rapist who raped a women age between 7 to 12 years will be punished with imprisonment for 7 years or imprisonment for life, beyond this it is also very clearly stated that those who commit gang rape to women will be punished with death sentence or imprisonment for life.
- POCSO or The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 was established to protect the children against different “sexual offences like sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography also includes penetrative and non penetrative assault”.
- It’s stated that any sexual abuse or assaults are widely impact on child’s mental health. This act also makes it to mandatory to report such cases and makes it a legal duty of every person to aware about these kinds of offences and to report soon. In any case if he fails to do so, he will be punished with six months or fine.
- The Act states that within a period of thirty days evidence should be recorded and special court taking cognizance of matter should be completed within a period of one year. This Act also includes rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than ten years who are traffic the children for sexual purposes, beyond this or in any case false or untrue information given to authorities that person also liable.
- Act’s main object to protect the interest and to provide the safeguards of child at every stage in every sector i.e. social, economic and political. Under this act, there is no provision for bail means offence under the POCSO Act is non- bailable.
After observing the Principal Act and Amendment Bills regularly passed by the Government, we can say that our Government always take necessarily steps for the benefit of juveniles and youngster who engaged in the illegal activity but beyond this we need to build strong linkage between Districts and States also to make their own rules, associations along with effective legal services for the benefit of the juveniles. Otherwise, most of the juveniles will engage in the illegal activities and our juvenile justice system become poor.
- Text book: Indian Penal Code, Seventh Edition, K.D Gaur, Universal Lexis Nexis, for the Background and Introduction of Juvenile Justice System.
- Bare Act of the Constitution of India, Universal Lexis Nexis, for the Constitutional Provisions
Shruti Goel, Delhi Metropolitan Education.