The emergency of Juvenile Justice in India

Nov 19, 2020

In the past few decades, crimes committed by children below the age of 16 years have increased astonishingly. Such an increase has been observed due to development of such characteristics among children - The upbringing environment of the child, economic conditions, lack of education and parental care. Children of age 6-12 are most vulnerable to be lured in to become a tool for the commission of offences since at such a young age their minds can be easily manipulated. In legal terms; the child is someone who has not attained the age of 18 years and is incapable of understanding the distinction between right and wrong and framing an intention. This concept can be observed under section 82 and 83 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 highlighted as the principle of “Doli Incapax”-the person incapable of understanding the commission of a crime.

Emergence in India

It was during the British period when laws were enacted to tackle the issue of Juvenile delinquency. The Whipping Act of 1864 was passed to punish the juveniles by whipping them for the wrongful acts committed by them and further creating fear in the minds of juveniles to control the rising numbers of such acts. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1861, now have various provisions for handling the situation differently.

Present Juvenile Justice System in India

The Juvenile Justice System in India is made on the foundation of three main assumptions:-

1. Young offenders should not be tried in courts. Instead, they should be corrected in the best possible way,

2. they should not be punished by the courts, but they should get a chance to reform

3. Trial for the child in conflict with law should be based on non-penal treatment through the communities based upon the social control agencies, e.g. Observation Homes and Special Homes.

Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

The Juvenile Justice act of 2015 preceded the Juvenile Justice act of 2000 because a need for a more robust and effective justice system that worked on deterrence as well as reformative approaches were developed. The approach towards Juveniles should be different from that of adults, there were contentions made in the Parliament that the Juveniles should be given more space for transformation or reformation or improvement and that is only possible when there’s a special justice system. Thus, the new Act, i.e. the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2015, focused on a Juvenile friendly approach of adjudication and disposition of matters.

Changes Brought in the JJ Act in the Wake of Recent Developments

The frightful Nirbhaya Case of December 16, 2012, brought the whole nation under shock, and there was an immediate need to make changes in the existing juvenile laws. The Rajya Sabha finally passed the juvenile justice bill in 2015;

· The new law permits juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years to be tried as adults if they are accused of committing an offence of heinous nature.

· That juvenile of 16-18 years will be further examined by the juvenile justice board and to make sure whether that person committed the crime as an adult or a child.

· The juvenile justice board consists of a team of psychologists and social experts to ensure that the rights of a juvenile are protected if the crime was committed by the accused as a child.

· Every district must have a Juvenile Justice and a child welfare committee.

The Act also focuses on the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders through various child care houses and institutions. The most important subjects of the Act are as follows:-

  1. Those whose guardians or parents are/ were unfit or uninterested in taking care of the child.
  2. Those who are/ were found performing works that are in contravention to the labour laws.
  3. Ones who have the imminent threat of marriage before attaining the specified lawful age.
  4. The meaning of adoption has also been specified in the Act through which the rights an adopted child stands recognized.

Chapter IV of the Juvenile Justice Act lays down numerous provisions for the betterment and welfare of children and also the reformation and rehabilitation of juveniles in every possible circumstance in consolidation with the Directive Principles enlisted in the constitution and the Fundamental Rights of children.


The measures to be taken for the benefit of juveniles can be brought into reality only if there is a well-connected bridge between the state and various district governments. Additionally, there is a requirement for the child rights activities and groups to take up the initiatives of the transformation of juvenile offenders, and this would further boost the process and help in bringing the desired change on a larger perspective. The increasing crime rate among the juveniles in recent times and absence of deterrence among them creates an alarming situation which is to be given full attention to the earliest.

With the current rate of crimes by juveniles, it is expected to be on the rise in the forthcoming years and therefore needs to be stopped in its initial stage itself.