[Polity] Juvenile Justice Act: features, Controversy post Delhi-Gangrape, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

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  1. What is Juvenile Justice Act 2000?
  2. Why in News/Controversy?
  3. Pro arguments (= reform needed)
  4. Anti-arguments (no reform needed)
  5. Reforms initiated
    1. UP
    2. Kerala
  6. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
  7. Functions of NCPCR?
  8. Constitutional Provisions
  9. UN DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
  10. Mock questions

What is Juvenile Justice Act 2000?

  • In India, we have accepted the policy of “no imprisonment for children” for any offence.
  • The Juvenile Justce Act of 2000 is the “tool” to implement that policy.
  • The Crimes committed by those under the age of 18, fall under this act.
  • Applicable across India (minus Jammu and Kashmir).
  • Full name: Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children )Act, 2000 (JJA)
  • JJ Act deals with two categories of children
Child in need of care and protectionJuvenile in conflict with law
Who?Children found in difficult circumstances and are in danger of survival and growth.For example rescued from a brothel, illegal factory etc.Children involved in crime.
AuthorityChild Welfare Committee.Juvenile Justice Board.
  • Under JJ act, ^each category of children are kept in separate care-houses.
  • Child himself can appear before the Competent Authority and demand his/her rights.

Features of Juvenile Justice Act

  1. Juvenile cannot be kept in police lock-up or jail.
  2. Juveniles cannot be treated or sentenced in the same manner as the adult criminals.
  3. Cases involving juveniles are tried by juvenile Justice board and not by regular courts.
  4. Juvenile Justice board consists of magistrate and two social workers.
  5. The case is decided by majority.
  6. If a Juvenile criminal is convicted, at maximum he gets three years in a reform facility. Thereafter he must be released on probation.
  7. Juvenile can only be kept at the special home till he attains 18 years of age.
  8. Capital punishment (hanging) or life imprisonment cannot be imposed on a Juvenile offender, irrespective of the gravity of the crime.

Special Juvenile Police Unit

  • Juvenile Justice Act has provision for setting up such unit in every police station.
  • Police office of ASI or above rank shall work as as Child Welfare Officer.
  • He shall be assisted by two local NGOs.
  • These units are supposed to identify the children who are vulnerable to engaging in criminal behavior, and extend help to them.
  • But in most of the districts in India, such police units are either not formed, or they’re non-functional.

Why in News/Controversy?

  • One of the rapist in Delhi case, claims to be a Juvenile.
  • Delhi police will file a separate charge sheet against him in a juvenile court.
  • Even if he is convicted, he’ll get maximum 3 years stay in a Juvenile reform facility.
  • Once he attains majority (18+), he cannot be kept with minor convicts at Juvenile reform facility AND he can he be sent to jail with adult convicts. So he’ll be released.
  • This so called “juvenile accused”, had beat that Delhi gangrape-victim with an iron rod mercilessly. Yet the law calls him a juvenile and he’ll be released with very light punishment.
  • Therefore, people are angry.

Reforms Sought

  • The age limit should be lowered for juvenile criminals.
  • In case of heinous crimes such as rape and murder, the Juvenile criminals should be tried just like adult criminals.

Pro arguments (= reform needed)

The National Crime Records (2011) speaks for itself

CrimeJuveniles (boys under 18) caught approx. numbers
Rape1200
Murder1100
Kidnapping500
Burglary500

3 years very low

  • The Juvenile Justice Act provides that a Juvenile Criminal be placed in a reform facility for maximum 3 years.
  • But there is no logical or scientific reason which shows that a juvenile will be “reformed” within three years.
  • In the case of the Delhi rapist, there is no assurance he will be reformed in three years and will not pose a threat to society for the rest of his life once released.

Juvenile Justice in other countries

United Kingdom

  • Here, the age of criminal responsibility, is set at 10 years.
  • Means any individual above the age of 10 is considered fully aware of the difference between right and wrong.
  • In case of a juvenile offender, he can either be tried as a juvenile or as an adult, depending on the heinousness of the crime.

United States of America

  • Same as UK= if the crime was heinous (rape, murder etc.), the juvenile offenders are tried as adults.

Australia

  • Any individual over 14 years of age is held accountable of any crime committed by him.
  • whether the individual is to be tried as a minor or an adult depends again on the heinousness of the crime.

India

  • In India, we’re giving blanket protection to everyone less than 18 years old. Hell, Juveniles are exempt even from special laws such as POTA, National Security Act etc.
  • India too should move towards a Juvenile Justice system with differential penal provisions. (=if a juvenile has Committed any heinous crime, he must be tried and punished just like a regular adult criminal.)

PIL in Delhi Highcourt

  • This PIL seeks Delhi Highcourt to declare some provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act as ‘ultra vires’.
  • Because recent incidents show that juveniles, who have attained the age of 16 years, are involved in serious crimes.
  • Such Juveniles are quite well developed and they do not need the care and protection of the society. Rather the society needs care and protection against them.
  • A person committing a serious crime after attaining the age of 17 years and 364 days cannot be treated differently from the person who commits the same crime after attaining the age of 18 years and one day.

Anti-arguments (no reform needed)

The age limit for juvenile justice should not be reduced because

  • Most of these children grow up in an environment where they are neglected or face mental, physical or sexual abuse themselves.
  • These happen because most of the children belong to the poorest of the poor sections of society and grow up watching violence and abuse in their families and neighbourhoods.
  • Throwing them in a jail will not help in their rehabilitation.
  • Main reason for juvenile crime is the failure to protect vulnerable children from falling under the influence of drugs or in the wrong company of adults.
  • Delhi alone has around 80,000 children on its streets.
  • When children are living on the streets or in pitiable conditions, they can easily come under the influence of criminal-minded adults.

Juvenile Criminals have not increased

  • The rate of crime by children (that is, the number of children committing offences per lakh of the population) has not seen a substantial increase in the last decade
  • It has gone from 0.9 in 2000 to 2.1 in 2011.
  • Hence, the demand to lower the age of juvenility is not supported by crime data relating to children in India.
  • Similarly India has seen very low Juvenile crime compared to Development countries such as  USA.
CountryJuveniles arrested (2011)
USAMore than 11 lakhs
IndiaAround 34,000.
  • Awarding death penalty to a Juvenile will be barbarous in a civilized society.
  • A juvenile should not be imprisoned for life, without parole. Because it would place an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer.
  • If a Juvenile is sentenced for long-term prison, he might get into company of hardcore criminals and come out as a member of organized crime rather than reformed and responsible citizens.
  • It is the certainty rather than the severity of punishment that deters.

Reforms initiated

UP

  • The Uttar Pradesh government has put forward a proposal that in the case of rape, only those under the age of 16 be treated as juveniles. (=age limit reduced).

Kerala

  • Kerala state Government  has decide to amendment to the Kerala Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules
  • The Social welfare department officials have also suggested that of juvenile justice rules need not apply in gruesome crimes such as the Delhi gang rape and such juvenile offenders be treated like adult criminals.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  • It is a statutory body. (not Constitutional body like CAG or EC)
  • Act passed 2005
  • But Commission actually set up in 2007

Functions of NCPCR?

  • Review national laws, policies regarding Child rights.
  • Recommend measures to Government for their effective implementation.
  • Present annual reports to central Government.
Examine all factors affecting child-rights and suggest steps to GovernmentLook into matters relating to
  1. Terrorism
  2. Communal Violence
  3. Riots
  4. Natural Disasters
  5. Domestic Violence
  6. HIV AIDS
  7. Trafficking
  8. Maltreatment
  9. Torture And Exploitation
  10. Pornography
  1. Children in distress,
  2. Marginalised and disadvantaged children,
  3. Children in conflict with law (juveniles offenders)
  4. Children without family
  5. Children of prisoners.

Other functions

  1. Study international treaties and their implementation in India.
  2. promote research in the field of child rights
  3. Spread child rights literacy
  4. promote awareness
  5. through publications, media, seminars and other available means
  6. Inspect juvenile custodial homse
  7. Inquire into violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in such cases
  8. Can Receive Complaints. (any language under 8th schedule, no fees).
  9. Can take sup moto notice for child rights cases.
  10. Enjoys powers of a civil court. (can summon documents, persons, witnesses etc.)
  11. Can recommend Government to provide interim relief to the victim/his family.
  12. Can approach the Supreme Court or the High Court and request them to issue orders or writs.
  13. Can recommend Government to initiate prosecution against child rights violators.

Constitutional Provisions

15/3State to make special provisions for women and children.
21ARight to education
23Human trafficking and forced labour
24Child labour
39Healthy Development of children
45Early childhood care +education
47State to raise level of nutrition and standard of living

UN DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

According to UN definition, Children=all under Age of 18.

Category

Provisions

Survival

  1. The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.
  2. Enjoy the benefits of social security.
  3. Adequate pre-natal and post-natal care.
  4. Adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.
  5. Child shall not be separated from his mother, unless exceptional circumstances.
  6. Child shall be among the first to receive protection and relief, in all circumstances and disasters.

Protection

  1. State shall provide special treatment for physically, mentally or socially handicapped children.
  2. Society and the public authorities shall provide special care to children without a family or means of support.
  3. Shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.
  4. Protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation

Development

  1. Shall not be employed before an appropriate minimum age.
  2. Free and compulsory education, at least in the elementary stages.
  3. Full opportunity for play and recreation.

^list not exhaustive, just listing the ‘fodder-worthy’ points for essay/interview.

Mock questions

Q1. Which of the following is/are correct about Juvenile Justice Act

  1. It only deals with the children accused a crime.
  2. It is applicable in case of special acts such as POTA (repealed) or National Security Act etc.
  3. In case of heinous crimes, it allows the judiciary to treat juveniles as adult criminals.

Ans

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 1 and 3
  3. Only 2 and 3
  4. None.

Q2. Which of the following is outside the jurisdiction of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)?

  1. Take suo moto notice of cases related to child rights.
  2. Sentence jail term to persons involved in child-abuse.

Ans.

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. none

Q3. Correct Match

ArticleRelated with
  1. 21A, 45
Child education
  1. 23
Forced labour
  1. 24
child labour
  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 1 and 3
  3. Only 2 and 3
  4. All

Q4. Who among following enjoys to the powers to legislate on matters related to Prison, reformatories, borstal* institutions and other such institutions?

  1. State
  2. Union
  3. Both (concurrent)

*Borstal= Formerly a British reform school for youths considered too young to send to prison.

Descriptive

Each for 12 marks (120 words)

  1. What are the salient Features of Juvenile Justice Act 2000 (12m)
  2. Examine the need for reforms in Juvenile Justice Act.
  3. List the functions of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
  4. Discuss the Initiatives taken by Government for protection of Child Rights.

Essay

  1. In serving the best interests of children, we serve the best interests of all humanity.
  2. If we are ever to have real peace in this world we shall have to begin with the children.
  3. Justice and peace can only thrive together, never apart.
  4. A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.
  5. Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.
  6. An act of justice closes the book on a misdeed; an act of vengeance writes one of its own.

Interview

  1. What are the responsibilities of a district collector regarding protection of child rights?
  2. Are you in favor of reducing age limit of Juvenile criminals? Yes/no why?

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

70 Comments on “[Polity] Juvenile Justice Act: features, Controversy post Delhi-Gangrape, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)”

  1. Hi
    Mrunal sir please give some strategy to prepare sbi bank po exam
    Im waiting for your suggestion.
    Thanks

  2. hi mrunal.. do children , who r witnesses come under this act?

  3. superb articulation as usual mrunal sir.

  4. sir u r great .you guide the poor like us

  5. thanks for sharing with UPSC aspirants

  6. Good job sir, keep it up , it really helps.

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