Juvenile justice system is progressive and civilized system which is adopted by the world. Prime focus is to reform the children who have committed offenses. Juveniles are rehabilitated and remanded to family.
In the past few years, crimes by children who are under the age of 18 years have increased rapidly in India. According to National Crime Records bureau, in the year 2012, 27,936 children were involved in serious crimes such as murder, rape, dacoity, theft, burglary, snatching and other crimes which are performed on regular basis. No one is born criminal; the circumstances have formed them into criminals. Surrounding and environment has impacted on children's lives.
"Juvenile" is a child who is under the age of 18 years is considered a minor. In India, child crimes are specified as a juvenile crime. Delinquent acts committed by minors are categorized as child crimes and they are called juvenile offenders. Person who has committed an offense but not completed 16 years of age in case of boys and 18 years of age in case of girls are juvenile. The term "Justice" means equality of being fair and respect for people. The term "System" is a set of rules to be followed with juveniles.
Juvenile justice system emanated during British rule. Before the 19th century child offenders and adult offenders were treated equally. Children were thrown into jails without trials and they were locked with habitual criminals. After British rule, the constitution of India provided a separate treatment for children and women. Most of the countries have adopted the juvenile justice system to rehabilitate the young offenders to a peaceful and decent life.
Juvenile Justice Act
In the present juvenile justice system follows the bill passed in 2015 which is juvenile justice (care and protection of children) Act 2015. This Act was passed by Lok Sabha on 7th may 2015 and by Rajya Sabha on 22nd December 2015. This act has replaced the juvenile justice (care and protection) Act 2000. This bill will allow the juvenile justice board and child welfare committee to settle on treatment of juveniles. This bill concluded the adoption of orphans. Juvenile justice (care and protection of children) Act Amendment bill 2021 has passed by Lok Sabha.
Present Juvenile Justice System In India
At present there are 815 juvenile homes in India. Crimes committed by juveniles are increasing hence juvenile homes are overcrowded. Juvenile justice system deals with the protection of young offender's rights. This system emphasis on the three main assumptions which are as follow:
1. Young offenders should be sent to rehabilitation centers rather than being tried.
2. They should get a chance to reform rather than be punished.
3. Trial for child in conflict with law should be based on non-penal treatment from social control agencies.
The juvenile justice Act 2000 was legislated in 2000 with intent to offer protection for children. The mentioned was amended twice – first within the time of 2006 and latterly in 2011. The amendment was made to correct the gap and loopholes within the enactment. Further, the adding number cases of juvenile crimes within the last recent times and frightful incident of “Delhi Gang Rape Case” has forced the law makers to amend the current law for juvenile offender who has committed a heinous crime like murder, rape and other. The foremost repeal of the Act was that it contained ill equipped legal vittles and exiting juvenile system was also the main reason in precluding the juvenile crimes in India. The act was replaced by The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015.
Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
There can be various causes of juvenile delinquency in India. It is difficult to understand the child's behavior patterns at an early stage. Every person has a different way of behaving. Children's way of acting changes from time to time due to the surrounding and environment. Some of the main causes can be poverty, adolescence instability, lack of parental control, Early involvement in sex activities, drugs addiction and modern lifestyle. These causes influence the juvenile's life.
A Home may be a broken home when one of the parents have died or both, parents are suffering from health issues, or the child is living far away from home, or when parents are separated or divorced. These reasons influence the child's life. Children become more vulnerable to anti societal influence with lack of parental control and care.
Economic factor or poverty-
In India, poverty is the prime reason for juvenile delinquency. Most of the crimes are committed by poor juveniles. When parents work far away from home and the child is left uncared.
Surrounding influences the child's life. Surrounding and environment of habitual offenders will result in juvenile delinquency.
Lot of juvenile’s delinquents are mental unstable. It became difficult to distinguish between right and wrong for a child who is suffering from mental illness.
Prevention of juvenile delinquency
In India, juvenile crimes are rapidly increasing day by day. Creating awareness among the children of society. Society's contributions take a lot of effort to prevent juvenile delinquency. Prevention of juvenile delinquency from family intervention proved to be a major way to tackle the juvenile crimes. Family should not control every activity of children.
Some of the other ways to prevent juvenile delinquency are
Education and awareness to parents on how to behave with a child, how a parent's behavior influences the child's activities. Educational programs should be conducted for parents and children. These programs will help to prevent juvenile delinquency.
2. Parent-child relationship
Healthy relationship between parent and child leads to a better future for the child. Parents must have good parenting skills to respond to their child's wrong behavior.
Sometimes children become a victim of Bullying by neighborhood, peer groups or on the school campus. Bullying impacts on children's mental health. Children might hold grudges of Bullying and harassment and commit offenses unknowingly.
Rights Of Juvenile Offenders
Right to a lawyer
Right to cross-examine witnesses.
Right to provide evidence to support one's own case.
Right to remain silent.
Right to an appeal.
Right to a transcript of a trail (written copy of the trail).
Right to have fair and speedy trials.
Right to have no juries in juvenile cases.
Right to have parents and guardians present at hearing.
In possibly the first case of juvenile justice law in India, a session court of Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh sentenced life imprisonment for two teenagers who killed another teenager.
Radhu nana palia, 16 years old a victim was stabbed to death in Jhabua on 5th December 2015 allegedly for Rs.500. Palia was a 9th class student, who was rushed to the local hospital.
A day later, two teenagers - a 16 years old and 17 years old were arrested and sent to a correction home. They were examined by board, in this they found fit for the consequences of the crime.
They both were fined Rs.10000 each and sentenced to three years in prison for possession of illegal weapons. And life imprisonment for murder.
Darga Ram v State of Rajasthan
In this case the complainant had Jagran in a village of Rajasthan. Jagran was attended by around 50 people including men, women and children. Victim Kamala, 7 years old and appellant was there till midnight in the Jagran. Kamala went with other children to sleep. When the Father of Kamala (a complainant) came to the house, he found Kamala missing. Assuming kamala went to a relative 's house but kamala was not found. Search for kamala extended to the outskirts of the village and one of the searchers found a body of kamala. In report, kamala had been raped and murder by crushing her head with the stone. A case was registered under section 302 and 376 of Indian penal code. Darga ram who was deaf, dumb and illiterate adolescent arrested in police investigation. Darga ram had injuries on his private parts and blood stains which matched with the kamala.
Darga ram was found guilty of rape and murder under section 302 and 376 by sessions court and high court.
On the final appeal the appellant raised the additional plea of juvenility on the date of the commencement of the crime.
Since the appellant was illiterate and did not have any documents to prove age. Court had decided for medical examination and directed to medical college of jodhpur. After all medical examination, Dargah was found between 33 to 36 years old.
In India, the government has enacted various laws to reduce youth crimes. Juvenile justice system in India emphasizes the protection of the rights of juveniles. Prime focus is to reform the children and make positive change in the personality of young offender's with reducing the crime rates in India. Developing countries have higher problems of juvenile delinquency. There are many factors that are affecting children. The rising rate of juvenile delinquency in India is a matter of great concern and needs attention.
Section 2 (14) of Juvenile Justice Act 2015.
This article is written by Anjali Ravindra More of NEW LAW COLLEGE, MUMBAI.