“The Juvenile delinquent doesn’t feel his disturbed personality. The intelligent man does not feel his intelligence or the introvert his introversion” 

  • BF Skinner.

According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau report, in 2022 the country witnessed a total of 30,555 crimes which were committed by minors, out of which the heart of our country i.e. the national capital, recorded the highest rate of crimes committed by the Juveniles. Approximately 485+ minors have been caught for murders and 10,000 were apprehended of same in Delhi itself. 

In a recent article published, the headlines read, “Major crimes by minors shoot up: 10 juveniles held for murder every month in Delhi”. Further, it explained the “Gruesome case of a 16-year-old boy who stabbed another teenager over money in northeast Delhi and dancing over his lifeless body is not an isolated incident.” The Supreme Court rightly showed its concern over the rise in Juvenile delinquency and whether the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 rightly served its purpose and was curing the malice existing in the country. 

Concept Of Juvenile

The term Juvenile is for a young person who is neither an adult nor a child. The word Juvenile originates from the Latin term “Juvenis” which translates to young. In general, the principle of Doli Incapax i.e. a child cannot have a criminal intent, is followed in most of the countries. 

According to the Juvenile Justice Act, of 2015, a child is defined as a person who has not reached the age of 18 years. The term juvenile is defined as a child who has committed an offence. 

In Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty, the court held that the offence of rape was violative of the right to life as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and hence any blanket immunity to the juveniles is ultra vires the constitution. 

History Of The Juvenile Justice System In India

It was during the 18th Century that the need for the special treatment of Juvenile delinquents was felt, before that they were treated similarly to adults. In United Nations General Assembly, adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. This convention aimed to safeguard the best interest of the juvenile offenders. India ratified it on 11th December 1992, hence passed 

The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and later Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. 

It was after the Nirbhaya Delhi Gang Rape case, which shook the entire justice system and the country to its core, that the Indian legislature passed a new law Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection), in 2015. In Mukesh & Ors v. State of Delhi, six people were accused, one of the accused was 17 and a half when he took part in the gang rape of Nirbhaya. Since he was not a major, he was sent to a juvenile reformative home for 3. Timeline of the legislation passed in India about Juveniles: 


Why Do The Juveniles Become Delinquent? 

In a seminal study ‘Juvenile Crime- A Peep into Reality’ by Empowerment of Children and Human Rights Organisation, Centre for Juvenile Justice in collaboration with UNICEF India and the Department of Women and Child Development, Karnataka, stated that, “Every child in conflict with the law is a child who would have required care and protection at some point in India in their life.” 

It is frequently observed that adolescents cannot be treated either as children or as adults. They have to be given special attention because of the changes in their mental and physical composition. While most of adolescents are mature enough to show aggression, they are not well aware of the consequences of their acts. 

Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection) Act, 2015

Since this act came after the Nirbhaya Case one of the major changes was in the case of grievous crimes committed by juveniles under the age of 16-18 years who could be committed as adults. 

Some of the salient features of this act are: 

  1. Addition of the term child in conflict with law. 
  2. he definition expands to orphan, surrendered and abandoned children. 
  3. There is an increase in penalty. A heinous offence’s maximum punishment is 7 years imprisonment, a serious offence’s punishment lies between 3 to 7 years and a petty offence’s punishment lies between 3 years. 
  4. There is also a provision for the establishment of a juvenile justice board and child welfare committee. 

In Shilpa Mittal v. State (NCT of Delhi), the court held that only those offences that have imprisonment of more than 7 years can be regarded as heinous offences and not those that provide only 7 years of sentence. 

Concept Of Rehabilitation For Juvenile

The jurisprudential theory of punishment primarily deals with the object of deterring the wrongdoers from repeating the same offence. The aim of rehabilitation rather than punishment is that the convict should regret his or her crimes and reflect upon the same. In rehabilitation, the criminals are generally taught any vocational work that they can use to earn employment either in the rehabilitation centre or once they are released back into society. 

The Juveniles are sent to rehabilitation centres to understand their crime and actions to grow their personality and provide them with adequate skill sets. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, of 2015, aims at rehabilitation of the Juveniles in case of non-grave offences.

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