Juvenile Justice By Shadan Seraj At LEXCLIQ

The Juvenile Justice System in India is structured around the Constitutional mandate prescribed in the language of Articles 15(3), 39 (e) & (f), 45 and 47, as well as several international covenants, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules).In India, a person below the age of 18 years is considered a ‘child’. The Juvenile Justice system contemplates the legal response with respect to two categories of children, namely those who are ‘ in conflict with law (an individual under the age of 18 years who is accused of committing an offence); and those ‘in need of care and protection’ (children from deprived and marginalized sections of society as well as those with different needs and vulnerabilities).
The Legislation that deals with all the matters concerning ‘Children in need of care and protection’ and ‘Children in Conflict with Law’ is Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

The said Act came into force from 15th January, 2016. It replaced the juvenile delinquency law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000/2006. The provisions of the Act, 2015 apply to all the matters concerning Children.

Aim and Object of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

The provisions of this Act apply to all the matters concerning ‘Children in need of Care and Protection’ and ‘Children in Conflict with Law’, including,

• Procedures and decisions or orders relating to rehabilitation, adoption, reintegration, and restoration of children in need of care and protection;
• Apprehension, detention, prosecution, penalty or imprisonment, rehabilitation and social integration of children in conflict with law; in a child friendly manner.
The Act aims at adjudicating and disposing cases dealing with juveniles/children keeping in mind “the best interest of the children and their rehabilitation.”

Claim of Juvenility
The very first and most debatable question among the legal fraternity and socialists is the “claim of juvenility”. The claim of Juvenility is to be decided by Juvenile Justice Board. The Board has to decide the claim of juvenility before the court proceedings but the claim of juvenility can be raised before the court at any stage of proceedings and even after the disposal of the matter by the Board. The Board had to consider Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007 in order to determine the claim of juvenility. In case of KulaiIbrahim v. State of Coimbatore it was observed by the Court that accused has right to raise the question of juvenility at any point of time during trial or even after the disposal of the case under the Section 9 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.

In case of Deoki Nandan Dayma v. State of Uttar Pradesh the court held that entry in the register of school mentioning the date of birth of student is admissible evidence in determining the age of juvenile or to show that whether the accused is juvenile or child.

Again, in the case of Satbir Singh& others v. State of Haryana, Supreme Court again reiterated that for the purpose of determination whether accused is juvenile or not, the date of birth which is recorded in the school records shall be taken into consideration by Juvenile Justice Board.

Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) is constituted in each district for exercising the powers and discharging its functions relating to juveniles/children in conflict with law. The JJB will conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether a juvenile offender is to be sent for rehabilitation or be tried as an adult. Similarly, Child Welfare Committee (CWC), deal with those children who are ‘in need of care and protection’ i.e. children from deprived and marginalized sections of society as well as those with different needs and vulnerabilities and aims at determining institutional care for children in need of care and protection and their rehabilitation, reintegration, and restoration.

Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

Adolescence Instability- The biological, psychological and sociological are one of the important factors in the behavior pattern of adolescent. At this stage, teenagers become more conscious about their appearances and fashions, enjoyment, food, play and etc. And at this age, they want freedom and they wanted to be independent but sometimes they are given any chances and oppournities by their parents, teachers and elders this leads to development of anti – social behavior in them. Thus, this anti – social behavior, biological changes, psychological causes are some of the reasons which are responsible for juvenile delinquency.
Disintegration of Family System– Disintegration of family system and laxity in parental control is also the main cause of increasing rates of juvenile delinquency. In normal cases divorce of parents, lack of parental control, lack of love and affections are the major factors of juvenile delinquency.
Economic condition and Poverty– Poverty and poor economic condition is also considered has major contributing factor of increasing juvenile crimes as result of poverty, parents or guardian fails to fulfill the needs of the child and at the same time children wants that their desires should be fulfilled by parents by hook or by cook and when their desires are met they start themselves indulging in stealing money from homes or any other parents. And this develop habitual tendency of stealing which results into theft at large scale.
Migration– Migration of deserted and destitute juveniles’ boys to slums areas brings them in contact with some anti – social elements of society that carries some illegal activities like prostitution, smuggling of drugs or narcotics etc. These sorts of activities attract the juvenile a lot and they may involve themselves in such activities.
Sex Indulgence– The children those who have experienced sex assault or any other kind of unwanted physical assault in their early childhood may develop any kind of repulsiveness in their behavior and mind. In this age they may become more vagrants or may want to have sex experience. Too much of sex variance may lead the boys towards the crime of kidnapping and rapes etc.
Modern Life Style– The rapidly changing society patterns and modern living style, makes it very difficult for children and adolescents to adjust themselves to the new ways of lifestyle. They are confronted with problems of culture conflicts and are unable to differentiate between right and wrong.

What is the doctrine of ‘Doli Incapax’ ?

One amongst the important principles of Criminal Jurisprudence is the doctrine of ‘Doli Incapax’, which enunciates the criminal liability of the Juvenile. When this doctrine is applied and interpreted with regards to the Indian Laws, the result it gives is that no Juvenile under or of the age of 7 years should be prosecuted for the commission of the crime.
The doctrine of ‘Doli Incapax’ means the incapability of committing a crime. It finds its basis on article 40 (3) (a) of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child, that states that every country must mention the minimum age for the children who should be exempted from any kind of criminal liability because of their inability to decipher the nature and consequences of the act.
For Juveniles falling under the age of 8 to 14 years, the prosecution has the liability to prove the offence of the concerned child.

The main aims of this doctrine can be elucidated in the following points:

A child should be protected from the gravity of punishment inflicted upon him to his act. A reformative approach should be adopted to make the child overcome his paranoia.
A child that belongs to the age group of below 7 years, doesn’t possess the mental capacity to analyze the consequences of his acts, he/ she may lack the knowledge as well as the intention to commit a crime and mere ‘actus reus’ cannot be a ground for prosecution unless accompanied with ‘mens rea’.

Several rehabilitation and social reintegration measures have been provided for children in conflict with law and those in need of care and protection. Under the institutional care, children are provided with various services including education, health, nutrition, de-addiction, treatment of diseases, vocational training, skill development, life skill education, counselling, etc to help them assume a constructive role in the society. The variety of non-institutional options include: sponsorship and foster care including group foster care for placing children in a family environment which is other than child’s biological family, which is to be selected, qualified, approved and supervised for providing care to children.

The increasing rates of juvenile crime in India in very concerning issue and need to be focused upon. Although government has laid various legislation and rules to stop the incidents of juvenile crimes but the present laws on juveniles is not creating a deterrent effect on the juveniles and thus the results are not fruitful and legislative intent is not accomplishing.

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