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Juveniles were punished the same as adults in the nineteenth century; they were hanged, transported, and offered no respite if they were found to be involved in illegal activity. The Indian legal system gradually incorporated a separate procedure for juveniles.

The juvenile justice system's core concept is that the state must assume guardianship of the child. The juvenile court's jurisdiction is limited to minors under the age of 16 who have committed crimes that are not punished by death or life imprisonment, according to the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure. The Central Children Act of 1960 broadens the concept of delinquency and raises the age of criminal responsibility for girls to 18. State-by-state differences exist as well. The Constitution is at the foundation of Indian juvenile justice policy. Articles 15 (3), 21, 24, 39 (e) and (f), 45, and 47 of the constitution, as well as various international Covenants, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the United Nations Fundamental Basic Guidelines for Juvenile Justice Administration. On November 20, 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes provisions protecting juvenile offenders' rights.

Following colonial authority and developments, juvenile justice arose as a result of western notions.

● The Apprentice Act of 1850 was the first juvenile statute to assist adolescents aged 10 to 18 in reforming and rehabilitating themselves.

● Fair trials for juveniles were a priority for the Indian Jail Committee from 1919 to 1920.

● The Juvenile Justice Bill of 1986 was introduced to give more attention to children who are subjected to unfair treatment by society or who live in poverty.

● The Juvenile Justice Amendment Act of 2006 encouraged confidence in teenagers who were over 16 years old at the time of the alleged offence. When the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 was passed, the age was raised from 16 to 18 years pending trial.

● The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 replaced the Juvenile Act of 2000. It made a number of changes to the law at the time. Teenagers aged 16 to 18 who commit serious crimes will be punished as adults under this law, making the juvenile justice system more flexible and adaptive to changing societal circumstances.

● The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO), Child Labour (Protection and Regulation) Act, the POCSO Amendment Act 2019, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), National Child Labour Scheme, and the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights have all emerged in the aftermath of the Juvenile Act of 2015.

Juvenile criminality is a major issue in today's society. This is a serious issue because the youth aged 15 to 19 account for around 100,215,890 persons, or 9.7% of India's total population, according to the population composition. It has an impact on not just the generations, but also the entire family as well as the entire community.

The juvenile justice system is a section of the criminal justice system that deals with young children who aren't old enough to go through the same criminal justice process as adults. Juveniles under the age of 18 are subject to the juvenile justice system. The basic premise of the juvenile justice act is that a child is incapable of comprehending or having the maturity to understand the wrong he or she has committed; as a result, the act states that the child will not be subjected to punitive measures, but will instead be subjected to rehabilitative measures in which the child will be given the opportunity to reform so that they can lead a normal life in the future.

India has enacted legislation that protects the rights, interests, and safety of juvenile offenders. This is an attempt to deal with the problems associated with adolescent delinquency. The following are the three pillars of India's juvenile justice system: The following are the three pillars of India's juvenile justice system:

● Instead of being tried in court, juveniles should be transferred to be rehabilitated.

● Reformative reforms should be presented to them.

● Based on the community's social control agencies, such as Observation Homes and Special Homes, a child in violation of the law shall receive non-punitive care while on trial.

The juvenile justice system was founded on the premise that children lack the maturity to comprehend the illicit activities in which they may be involved; the concept is based on the legal maxim doli incapax, which implies incapable of committing any wrong or injury. Sections 82 and 83 of the IPC are the basic legal provisions for doli incapax.

Section 82: [1]

“Nothing is an offense which is done by a child under seven years of age.”

Section 83: [2]

“Nothing is an offense which is done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion.”

As a result, a youngster cannot be held responsible for illegal behaviour. A person who has acquired mental maturity is generally referred to as an adult. A person is mature in psychological terms when he or she possesses specific skills that are the result of both cognitive development and the nature of the individual's interactions with his or her environment. The child's environment influences the development of his or her cognitive ability to some extent. Because of his or her ability to engage in more abstract cognition, the youngster can grasp and interpret the world in a different way. It should be noted that there is no universal agreement on what constitutes a child.

The juvenile justice system is founded on the principles of social welfare and the protection of children’s rights. It is concerned with the reform and rehabilitation of the child in order to provide for the child’s personality development. Children are the country's future resources. They need to change their negative characteristics into positive ones. The concept of juvenile delinquency is a new one, and it's a contentious one. Although the government has enacted numerous legislations in an attempt to curb adolescent delinquency, these are insufficient. Current laws have failed to instill a sense of deterrence in the minds of minors, resulting in poor results.


This article is written by Keerthi Narendran of Christ University.

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