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THE JUVENILE JUSTICE 2015

INTRODUCTION
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 has been passed by Parliament
of India amidst intense controversy, debate and protest on many of its provisions by Child
Rights fraternity. It replaced the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and allows for juveniles in conflict with Law in the age
group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults.[2] The Act came into
force from 15 January 2016.
It was passed on 7 May 2015 by the Lok Sabha amid intense protest by several Members of
Parliament. It was passed on 22 December 2015 by the Rajya Sabha.
To streamline adoption procedures for orphan, abandoned and surrendered children, the
existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a
statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively. A separate chapter on
Adoption provides detailed provisions relating to adoption and punishments for non
compliance. Processes have been streamlined with timelines for both in-country and inter-
country adoption including declaring a child legally free for adoption.
As on 2018, Ministry of Women & Child Development of Government of India is working
towards bringing an amendment, primarily to remove courts from adoption process and to
handover it to Executive Magistrates/ District Magistrates, despite nationwide protest against
such a move.

HISTORY

The Ministry of Women and Child Development began contemplating several desired amendments in
2011 and a process of consultation with various stake holders was initiated. The Delhi gang rape
case in December 2012 had tremendous impact on public perception of the Act. One of the accused in
the 2012 Delhi gang rape was a few months younger than 18 years of age. He was tried in a juvenile
court. One of the convicts was found to be juvenile and sentenced to 3 years in a reform
home. Eight writ petitionsalleging the Act and its several provisions to be unconstitutional were heard
by the Supreme Court of India in the second week of July 2013 and were dismissed, holding the Act
to be constitutional. Demands for a reduction of the age of juveniles from 18 to 16 years were also
turned down by the Supreme Court, when the Union of India stated that there is no proposal to reduce
the age of a juvenile.
On 31 July 2013, Subramanian Swamy, a BJP politician filed a Public Interest Litigation in
the Supreme Court of India seeking that the boy be tried as an adult in a court. The Court asked the
juvenile court to delay its verdict. After the Supreme Court allowed the juvenile court to give its
verdict, the boy was sentenced to 3 years in a reform home on 31 August 2013. The victim's mother
criticized the verdict and said that by not punishing the juvenile the court was encouraging other
teenagers to commit similar crimes.
In July 2014, Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi said that they were
preparing a new law which will allow 16-year-olds to be tried as adult. She said that 50% of juvenile
crimes were committed by teens who thought that they get away with it. She added that changing the
law, which will allow them to be tried for murder and rape as adults, would scare them. The bill was
introduced in the Parliament by Maneka Gandhi on 12 August 2014. On 22 April 2015,
the Cabinet cleared the final version after some changes.
A revamped Juvenile Justice Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on 7 May 2015. The new bill will
allow minors in the age group of 16-18 to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes. The crime
will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to ascertain if the crime was committed as a 'child' or
an 'adult'

FUNCTIONING

There is a separate legal framework for children accused of committing crimes. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of
Children) Act, 2015 applies whenever the person accused of committing a crime is a child. It also applies to vulnerable children
who need the government to take care of them (even if it's for a short while). For such children who need help with getting a
better and fulfilling life, the law provides for a number of mechanisms (including adoption, sponsorship and foster care).
Normally, if a person is accused or arrested or detained in India, the regular criminal procedure under the Code of Criminal
Procedure Code 1973 applies. An accused person can be kept in custody for months. The code also explains how persons
would face trial to decide guilt or innocence.
The JJ Act ensures that such harsh procedures do not apply to children. So, for Children in Conflict with Law, it has created an
alternate, more lenient and child-friendly setup.
The setup is largely controlled by the Juvenile Justice Board, and ensures that children are not kept together in regular jails with
regular offenders. It also ensures children are re-integrated into society after having completed the terms of their punishment.[1]
What possible penalties and punishments can be given by the JJB?
There is no punishment as such in JJ Act. However, the JJ Act lists the following dispositional orders that can be passed by the
JJBs:

 Giving the child a firm warning, letting the child go home while simultaneously counselling the parents;
 Ordering the child to attend group counselling sessions;
 Ordering the child to perform supervised community service;
 Ordering the parents or guardians to pay fine.
 Releasing the child on probation. The parents or guardians will have to execute a bond (up to 3 years) which may include
surety and be responsible for the child’s behaviour. The responsibility can also be handed over to a ‘fit person’ or ‘fit
facility’ which is a recognized person or government organization or NGO which is prepared to accept the child’s
responsibility.
 Sending the child to a Special Home for up to three years.
If, the JJB thinks that keeping the child in the Special Home would be against her best interests, or other children in that home,
then the child could be sent to a Place of Safety. Do not forget that the JJ Act follows a principle of institutionalisation as last
resort, meaning that these penalties are supposed to be highly exceptional.
The JJB may also pass orders directing the child to attend school or vocational training, or preventing the child from going to a
specified place.