Rupaly Middha & Shashwat Tomar ((V Semester students of B.A. L.LB (Hons.), Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur)).
“Treat the Cause and Not the Symptom. Government of India needs to wake up to this idea when it comes to dealing with juvenile delinquents”.
Juvenile delinquency problem has been in existence since time immemorial. It is an important feature of all societies, be it simple or complex. To solve this problem The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 came into force on 15th January 2016 which defines new boundaries with regard to penalizing juveniles and providing children from impoverished backgrounds with the basic needs and facilities that they require to live.
This paper will mainly focus on the juvenile delinquency, causes of juvenile trajectories, evolution of juvenile justice system in India, need of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Further an attempt would also be made to answer certain core questions viz; What is the difference between a minor and a juvenile, What is Juvenile Delinquency, legislation in Indian in this regard and the juvenile justice system, Why the act was needed when there was already a law for juveniles and also a comparative analysis between Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and amended act.
“The juvenile delinquent does not feel his disturbed personality. The intelligent man does not feel his intelligence or the introvert his introversion”.
Children are the foundation on which the dynamic and vibrant future of a nation shall be built. They are a nation’s greatest asset. The delicate mind of a child can easily be molded and subjected to an inclination towards criminal activities. This has now turned out to be the most debatable issue for the society. Delinquency and Juvenile both these terms constitute to form the most important subject matter of criminology. A perception of child’s mind is going through the most transitional phase with the development of society. By the beginning of the 17th century the second idea of childhood emerged when the child was perceived as a miniature adult with all the inclinations towards evils and potential for a fallen human nature. Juvenile Justice has now turned out to be one of the most diverse fields not only in Indian law but also in the world.
Equal opportunities should be given to all children during their growth period for reducing inequality and ensuring social justice which would serve as an efficacious tool to curb delinquency in juveniles. Juvenile delinquency is a big breading centre of criminals. The word delinquency is derived from the Latin word “delinquere” which means to abandon. Juvenile and minor are used in different context in legal terms. A young criminal offender is referred as a juvenile and minor is related to legal capacity or majority.Results of self-report studies indicate that an overwhelming majority of those who participate in violence against the young people are same in age and gender as their victims and in most of the cases offenders are males acting in groups.
Who is a Juvenile?
Juvenile means anyone who has not yet reached the age of adults in terms of childishness or immaturity. In the Legal sense, a juvenile can be defined as a child who has not attained a certain age at which he can be held liable for his criminal acts like an adult person under the law of the country. “Juvenile” or Child is a person who has not completed eighteen years of age.
Difference between a Juvenile and a Minor
A minor refers to a person who is not yet an adult in the eyes of the law. In this context minor is the opposite of an adult. The term often refers to something that is less significant; e.g., minor inconveniences or minor disruptions.
Juvenile, on the other hand indicates legality. In technical terms, it does mean young but has a negative connotation to it. It tends to imply immaturity and childishness and in legal terms, it refers to a young person who has been accused of a crime. In this context, juvenile is sort of the opposite of a minor as minor indicates an innocent child whereas juvenile tends to imply a young criminal.
William Coxton in the year 1484 used the word delinquent to refer a person who was found guilty. Juvenile delinquency means the involvement by the teenagers in an unlawful behaviour who is basically under the age of 18 and commits an act which is considered as a crime. A child is known as a delinquent when he/she perpetrate a mistake which is against the law and is not accepted by the society. A child is known as a delinquent when he/she commits a mistake which is against the law and which is not accepted by the society.
A child is born innocent, but due to the unhealthy environment, negligence of the basic necessities and wrong company, a child may turn into a delinquent. Usually, somebody has to have intent to break the law in order to commit a crime, but that is not always the case. A person can be charged with a crime if that person is not aware of the law.
No conduct constitutes a crime unless it is declared as criminal in the laws of the country. Delinquent and criminal behaviour may brim among young people as they negotiate the transition from childhood to adulthood in an increasingly complex and confusing world.Young people who are at the risk of becoming delinquent usually lives in difficult circumstances.
Causes of Delinquent Trajectories
Understanding the causes of juvenile delinquency is an integral part of preventing a young person from involvement in inappropriate, harmful and illegal conduct. Four primary risk factors can identify young people inclined to delinquent activities: individual, family, mental health and substance abuse. Often, a juvenile is exposed to risk factors in more than one of these classifications.
Individual Risk Factors
Factors in this sphere are identified as any characteristics directly related to or within a specific person that affects the likelihood of that individual engaging in violent and delinquent behavior.Several risk factors are associated with juvenile delinquency. A minor whose intelligence level is low and is devoid of proper education is more prone to become involved in delinquent conduct. Other risk factors include impulsive behavior, uncontrolled aggression and an inability to delay gratification. In many cases, multiple individual risk factors can be identified as contributing to a juvenile’s involvement in harmful, destructive and illegal activities.
Family Risk Factors
Family traits such as poor parenting skills, family size, home discord, child maltreatment, and antisocial parents are risk factors linked to juvenile delinquency.A constant pattern of family risk factors are associated with the development of delinquent behavior in young people. These family risk factors include a lack of proper parental supervision, ongoing parental conflict, neglect, and abuse (emotional, psychological or physical).
Parents who demonstrate a lack of respect for the law and social norms are likely to have children who think similarly. Finally, those children that display the weakest attachment to their parents and families are precisely the same juveniles who engage in inappropriate activities, including delinquent conduct.
Mental Health Risk Factors
Various mental health factors are also contributing to juvenile delinquency. It is important to keep in mind, that a diagnosis of certain types of mental health conditions- primarily personality disorders cannot be made in regard to a child. However, there are precursors of these conditions that can be exhibited in childhood that tend to end up being displayed through delinquent behavior. A common one is conduct disorder. Conduct disorder is defined as “a lack of empathy and disregard for societal norms”.
Substance Abuse Risk Factors
Substance abuse is found in many numbers of cases of juvenile delinquency. Two trends are identified in regard to substance abuse and minors. First, juveniles are using more powerful drugs today than was the case as recently as 10 years ago. Second, the age at which some juveniles begin using drugs is younger. Children in elementary schools are found to be using powerful illegal drugs. The consumption of these illegal substances or the use of legal substances illegally encourages young people to commit crimes to obtain money for drugs. Additionally, juveniles are far more likely to engage in destructive, harmful and illegal activities when using drugs and alcohol.
Historical Development of Juvenile Justice System in India
Earlier the concept of juvenile justice was based on a belief that the problems of juvenile delinquency in aberrant situations are not amenable to the resolution within the edifice of traditional process of criminal law. The term ‘Juvenile’ justice emerged from the word ‘juvenis’ which means young so it implies that it is a justice system for the young. During the course of time, it was felt that juvenile justice system beside catering the needs of young offenders, it also deliver specialized and preventive treatment services like community support, harmonizing impersonal state intervention with the family, community and institutional interventions for the children and as a means of prevention, rehabilitation and socialization through schools and religious bodies.
The Apprentices Act, 1850 was the first legislation dealing with children in conflict with the law in India. The Indian Jail Committee established in 1919 urged for demonstrating separate institutions and to have separate trials for the juveniles. Reformation and Rehabilitation of juveniles should be the motive of the law.
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 contained the provisions of juvenile justice along with many other things regarding an adjective or procedural law. Many States enacted their own State enactments in adjudication of matters involving the child or the juveniles which were in force in the respective States such as: Bombay Children Act, 1924 Bombay Children Act, 1948 U.P. Children Act, 1951 West Bengal Children Act, 1959 Rajasthan Children Act, 1970 Bihar Children Act, 1982, etc. The Children Act, 1960 applied only to Union Territories. There were many such enactments in many states of India which prevailed for administration of juvenile justice.
Supreme Court in its judgment in Sheela Barse’s case played a vital role in passing the constant and uniform law on juvenile justice where it acknowledged that the children in the jails are subject to special treatment and recommended that parliament should make the uniform law applicable throughout the country. As an outcome of the case, for the first time, the law mandated care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of neglected and delinquent juveniles and for adjudication and disposition of juvenile delinquency matters in India.
Normative Structure of Juvenile Justice System
The National Policy for the Welfare of Children, 1974 was formulated that declared the children of the nation to be the supremely important asset.  So there should be a prominent part in the national plans for children’s programs for development of human resources, so that they grow up to become robust citizens. The main aim would be equal opportunities for development to all children during the period of growth which would ultimately serve the large purpose of reducing inequality and ensuring social justice.
So after the proper review of the existing Children’s Act, the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 was enacted to implement some objectives.
Juvenile Justice Act, 1986
The indigenous thinking on Juvenile Justice has been keeping up with the global trends in this field. With the adoption of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the administration of the Juvenile Justice, India has become the first country to grow its system in the light of the principles enunciated therein. The main reason behind enacting the Juvenile Justice Bill of 1986 was to bring the operation of the Juvenile Justice System in the country in conformity with these Rules. And the other objectives were to lay down a uniform legal framework for Juvenile Justice, to provide a specialized approach towards the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency, to come up with the machinery and infrastructure for Juvenile Justice operations, to establish the norms and standards for the administration of Juvenile Justice, to develop the proper linkages and coordination between the formal system and voluntary agencies and to constitute special offences in relation to juveniles and to prescribe punishment thereof. With its enforcement, the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 has replaced the earlier mechanism of the Children Act enacted by the Central and State Governments for dealing with children coming in conflict with Jaw. This Act does not only aim at restructuring the system in the line of internationally proclaimed set of principles but also intends to evolve a new concept of juvenile justice within the true meaning of social justice as enshrined in the Constitution of India. It surely represents an enlightened response to the socio-cultural and economic transition that affects juveniles more than any other segment of society. It attempts to bring them back within the mainstream of social life. It calls for a diversified approach towards the recovery, re-education and rehabilitation of various categories of socially maladjusted juveniles, through an active participation of the public. In order to achieve this goal, the Act imbibes the essential elements of all the due processes, parens patriae and participatmy models. The definition of juvenile, as per this act, included boys who had not completed the age of 16 and girls who had not completed the age of 18 years. The law undoubtedly places a crucial duty on the state to appropriately utilize the resources from various sectors of socio-economic development in ensuring the well-being and welfare of juveniles and a chance to recover if they happen to falter.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
Diagnosing the current developments, the juvenile justice administration in India was found to have several flaws or gaps in legal provisions and shortcomings by the way of linkages between the governmental and non-governmental efforts in the care, treatment and rehabilitation of such children. The JJ Act 1986 required that the pre-existing system built around the implementation of the then available Children’s Acts be restructured. However, due to the absence of a national consensus on the time frame for such a restructuring, the steps taken by most of the State Governments were still heavily short of the proclaimed goals. The inadequacy of the juvenile justice personnel, in terms of both quantity and quality continues to be the weakest part of the operational strategy. In order to rationalize and standardize the approach towards juvenile justice in keeping with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of India and International obligations in this regard, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of the Children) Act, 2000 was (re)enacted by the government of India. The Interim Report of the Working Group of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (2001-· 02) has drawn attention to some additional inputs incorporated under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The Act with all additional inputs has been enforced since April 1, 2001, to deal with the children within its purview. The upper age limit of the children within the purview of the law has been raised. The upper age limit of the boys has been increased from 16 to 18 years, which would increase the actual coverage by seven times. It was then mandatory to constitute a ‘National Level Advisory Board’ on juvenile justice, to advice the Central and State Governments as well as the Voluntary Organizations associated with this work.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
But then again the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 was enacted to replace the existing Indian Juvenile Delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, so that juveniles in conflict with law in the age group of 16-18 years, involved in heinous offences can be tried as adults.
In our country, it was the high time to bring some reform in the Juvenile laws as there has been a steep rise in serious crimes involving youth of 16 – 18 years of age and they very well know that below 18 years is the ‘getaway pass’ for them from the criminal prosecution. The punishment has to be made a bit deterrent in order to inject the feelings of fear in the mind of the criminal. The recent “Nirbhaya rape case“ has caused utter dismay, concern and outrage amongst the people. The gruesome act of brutalizing her with an iron rod was done by none other but a juvenile and he has been sentenced for a period of 3 years as per Section 15 of JJ Act, 2000 as per our law for juveniles. The principal ought to have been followed for trying juvenile offenders is that Juvenility should be decided as per the state of mind and not just the state of body. In the recent Nirbhaya rape case all the other co- accused are awarded death sentence but the person who committed the most brutal part of the case has been awarded a mere 3 years of remand as per JJ Act, 2000.
In the light of above incident, the bill was introduced in the parliament by Maneka Gandhi on 12th August 2014. The bill adopts several new features which were missing in the earlier act like it adopts the concept of Hague convention and cooperation in respect of Inter-country Adoption, 1993. The bill also seeks to make adoption process of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children more streamlined. One of the most criticized step in the new juvenile justice bill 2015 is introduction of “judicial waiver system” which will allow treatment of juveniles in certain conditions, in the adult criminal justice system and to punish them as adults. Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) and Child will be constituted in each district. The role of JJB would be to conduct a preliminary in each district. The role of JJB would be to conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether a juvenile offender is to be sent for rehabilitation or be tried as an adult. The CWC will determine institutional care for children in need of care and protection. It is for the first time in India that such provisions have been applied.
This act totally deals with punishing children involved in crimes which are sort of well planned crimes, which creates a sense that the person committing the crime clearly know about what he is doing and still committing it, the crimes which are heinous in nature like rape and murder, dacoity or kidnapping.
This new act is considered as the biggest legal reform by the Indian judiciary and should be welcomed and implemented fairly and considered as a move towards stopping crimes by the teenagers of country by creating a sense of fear of punishment in the minds of teenagers by introduction of such type of laws.
Role of Judiciary
Supreme Court and various High Courts in India play a very important role in the development of Juvenile Justice System in India. In the initial stage, the cases related with juvenile delinquent are dealt by the lower courts but the trends of the judicial approach towards a juvenile in conflict with the law, reflected by the judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court and various high courts. The courts/ juvenile justice board are under the statutory and Constitutional duty to deal with the juveniles in conflict with the law. The competent authority is required to make due inquiry and give full opportunity to the juveniles to put his case before the court or board concerned. Child delinquency is accepted as a major problem faced by both developing and developed countries. To overcome this obstacle, the governments have established many courts for implementation of various law enacted and in this way contributed a lot in the fields of juvenile justice for the benefit of juvenile offenders. Judiciary on various occasions has expressed great concern relating to the proper implementation of beneficial provisions of law relating to children.
In Sheela Barse v Union of India, the Supreme Court issued directions to the state government to set up necessary observation homes where children accused of an offense could lodge, pending investigation and trial will be expedited by juvenile courts. In Sheela Barse v. Secretary, Children Aid Society, the Supreme Court commented upon setting up dedicated juvenile courts and special juvenile court officials and the proper provision of care and protection of children in observation Homes.
In M.C. Mehta v State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court pronounced upon the constitutional perspective of the abolition of Child labor and issued appropriate guidelines to the Government of India with respect to compulsory education, health, nutrition, etc of the child laborers. In Sakshi v Union of India, the Supreme Court directed the government/ Law commission to conduct a study and submit a report on the means of curbing child abuse.
Role of Police
It is basically the police who arrests the juvenile and produces him before the Juvenile Justice Board. A juvenile’s first contact with the juvenile justice system is through the police.In any circumstances, a juvenile can be kept within the police lock-up or jail. A juvenile’s case is investigated by the police and the charge-sheet is submitted before the competent authority for the same and also after the completion of inquiry, accompany the juvenile to the special home or his place of residence when below 18 years of age.The police also have the authority to immediately on apprehension release a juvenile on bail.
The principle on which all juvenile systems are based is Welfare of the juvenile.Special juvenile police unit including the law enforcement officials are primarily engaged in the prevention of juvenile crime under this Act to perform their functions more effectively.In every police headquarters, a minimum of one officer with the full ability and appropriate training and orientation is also designated as the juvenile welfare officer.
Prevention & Early Intervention
In light of the growing body of research, we now know that the better and more cost-effective place to stop the “cradle to prison pipeline” is as close to the beginning of that pipeline as possible. Early intervention prevents the onset of delinquent behaviour and supports the development of a youth’s assets and resilience. While many past approaches have focused on remediating visible and/or longstanding disruptive behaviour, research has proved that prevention and early intervention are way more effective.
The Interagency Working Group for Youth Programs has defined positive youth development as “an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths’ strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.
Positive Youth Development
Several researchers have promoted a positive youth development model to address the needs of youth who might be at risk of entering the juvenile justice system.
One positive youth development model addresses the six life domains of work, education, relationships, community, health, and creativity. The two key assets needed by all youth are (1) learning/doing and (2) attaching/belonging. When the necessary supports and services are provided to assist youth in the six life domains, it is expected that positive outcomes will result.
What are Effective Programs?
Under this prevention and early intervention framework, huge research is being conducted to determine which of the many existing programs are truly effective. Current studies indicates that effective programs are those that aim to work as early as possible and focus on known risk factors and the behavioural development of juveniles. In general, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recommend that the following types of school and community prevention programs be employed:
- Classroom and behavior management programs
- Multi-component classroom-based programs
- Social competence promotion curriculums
- Conflict resolution and violence prevention curriculums
- Bullying prevention programs
- Afterschool recreation programs
- Mentoring programs
- School organization programs
- Comprehensive community interventions
The Indian Government has done a lot for preventing Juvenile delinquency in the country but there is still a long way to go before the government. Some special provisions have been implemented in India for the Juvenile Delinquents; Observational homes have been established etc. And this intervention and the preventive programs are very vital in getting the juveniles back to streamline.
Suggestions and Recommendations
In order to make full use of the legal provisions available for juvenile, the State may initiate the following steps:
- Through a program of education, promotion, and organization, form groups of local citizens and assist these groups in conducting activities aimed at the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency, making use of local people and resources for the following purposes.
- Combating local conditions known to contribute to juvenile delinquency.
- Advise local, state, and federal officials, public and private agencies, and lay groups on the needs for and possible methods of the reduction and prevention of juvenile delinquency and the treatment of delinquent children.
- Consultation with the schools and courts of this state on the development of programs for the reducing and preventing delinquency and the treatment of delinquents.
- Assisting any community within the state by conducting a comprehensive survey of the community’s available public and private resources, and recommend methods of establishing a community program for combating juvenile delinquency and crime, but no survey of that type shall be conducted unless local individuals and groups request it through their local authorities, and no request of that type shall be interpreted as binding the community to following the recommendations made as a result of the request.
- Evaluating the rehabilitation of children committed to the department and prepare and submit periodic reports to the committing court for the following purposes:
- Administering within the state any juvenile justice acts and programs that the governor requires the department to administer.
- Visiting and inspecting jails, detention facilities, correctional facilities, facilities that may hold juveniles involuntarily, or any other facility that may temporarily house juveniles on a voluntary or involuntary basis.
- Applying for, allocating, disbursing, and accounting for grants that are made available pursuant to juvenile justice acts, or made available from other state, or private sources, to improve the criminal and juvenile justice systems in the state. All money from juvenile justice act grants shall, if the terms under which the money is received require that the money be deposited into an interest bearing fund or account, is deposited in the state treasury to the credit of the juvenile justice program purposes fund, which is hereby created. All investment earnings shall be credited to the fund.
- Assisting, advising, and making any reports that are required by the governor, attorney general, or general assembly.
Although drug testing is an additional expense for juvenile justice agencies, it often can save money over time by helping staff manage cases more appropriately, thereby preventing further substance abuse and delinquency that return youth to detention or confinement and probation or other juvenile justice agencies. However, the most important reason for implementing drug testing is its benefits for individual youth, their families, and communities. When lives can be reclaimed from patterns of substance abuse and delinquency, the personal and social advantages are immense.
India is perhaps the only country in the world which has the dubious distinction of having maximum number of laws to regulate the conduct of society. It is the only country where almost all aspects of human behavior are sought to be governed by laws rather than through education or innate enlightenment which is the preserve of every egalitarian society. In this fast changing world where development of science and technology keeps us on the run with rapidly occurring incredible changes that affect our life styles, we can’t remain contented/being confined in a straitjacketed idealist frame of laws which have no bearing on the present day situation. We have to be pragmatic and realistic rather than bigoted with a kind of idealism that hardly works now.
We may conclude that we have to take a serious view of the changing trends of behavior among our children which has virtually made age as too superfluous and irrelevant factor determining who actually is a Juvenile in real sense and who is not and tailor out a socio-legal plan to govern their conduct in such a way that they get full opportunity to develop their faculties without losing the bliss of their childhood such as innocence, naughtiness, playfulness, which are the basic attributes of childhood and ultimately turnout to be good human beings. The aim of juvenile justice should be that any reaction to juvenile offenders should always be in proportion to the circumstances of both the offender and offence. Then only we could proudly say our children are assets of our nation on whom we can stake our bright future otherwise they would become a liability to not only the parents but to the whole society. B. F. Skinner, an American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher.  B.B. Pande, The Indian Juvenile Justice Jurisprudence and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Aug. 1, 2017, 7:59 p.m.), http://www.workingchild.org/htm//jj.html.  Bryan A. Garner, Black’s Law Dictionary (9th Edition, 2009).  “First periodical report on crime and crime control in Germany”, Federal Ministry of the Interior and Federal Ministry of Justice, (Berlin, July 2001).  S. 2 (k), The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. Who is a Juvenile, Special Police unit for women and children (July 21, 2017, 6:29 P.M.) http://www.dpjju.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=164. Difference between minor and juvenile, DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS AND COMPARISONS (July 24, 2017, 3:21 A.M.), http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-minor-and-juvenile.  Barton W. and Butts J., Building on Strength: Positive Youth Development in Juvenile Justice Programs, Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago (2008).  United Nations, “Report of the Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Vienna, 10-17 April 2000” (Aug. 15, 2017, 7:00 P.M.).
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