‘How the Juvenile Justice Act works for children ?’



The Juvenile justice (Care and Protection  of  Children ) Act ,2000, which was adopted after the repealing  of its Parent Act the Juvenile Justice Act , 1986 is an Act framed and incorporated not to  stand as a penal legislation. The aim of the Act does not wish to punish the wrong doings of the juvenile child but aims at caring and protecting the child or juvenile through institutionalization, to protect them from future social evils and inclination towards crime.

As the Preamble states the Act strives to “consolidate and amend the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection “ , for protection and development of the juveniles by adopting a “child friendly “ (means any process and interpretation, attitude , environment and treatment , that is humane ,considerate and in the best interest of the child, as specified in the juvenile justice (care and protection of children ) rules ,2007) approach in adjudicating and disposing matters in the best interest  of the child(a decision taken to ensure the physical , emotional , intellectual , social and moral development of a juvenile or child as specified in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children ) Rules , 2007) for their ultimate rehabilitation.

As per section (2)(D) of the Act a “child in need of care and protection” means a child is either found without any home , settlement , abode or any ostensible means of subsistence or who is found begging , a street child or a working child . The Act further defines  a “Juvenile” or “child” in section (2)(K) as a person who had not completed eighteen years of his or her age and section (2)(l) defines a juvenile in conflict with law as a juvenile who has allegedly committed an offence and is not eighteen years of age as on the date of commission of the offence . The Act by defining the above three terms clarifies the ambiguity the term juvenile had created in the previous Act of 1986 . The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 had no inclusion of the term “child “ as well as no inclusion of caring and protection of a child . it also defined  a juvenile as a boy below the age of 16  and a girl below the age of 18 . The Juvenile justice (care and protection  of children ) Act , 2000 provided an unambiguous and equal clarification on the basic definition and objectives of the purpose of the legislation to protect the juveniles .  The Act further  institutionalizes it’s objectives in the further given sections .

Chapter II of the Act allows the government to form a juvenile justice board including a magistrate who has a special knowledge or training in child psychology or child welfare and two social workers having a background of child welfare (section  (4)(2),(3)) . the Juvenile Justice Board of every district where it is constituted has the right to set aside all other laws and only follow the procedure prescribed by the Act relating to juveniles under conflict of law (Section 6).  This chapter provides for the establishments of two forms of homes –

  • Observation Homes (Section 8)
  • Special Homes (Section 9)

Observation homes are set up for the temporary stay of any juvenile in conflict with law during the pendency of the inquiry classification of juveniles between boys and girls and  into a group of 7 -11 years , 12-16 , and 16–18 . Special homes are set up for juveniles for their rehabilitation having a classification for girls above 10 years and boys between 11- 15 and 16 – 18 years. The norms to be maintained by these homes such as infrastructural norms ( section 3 ), sanitation and hygiene (Section 42) , clothing and bedding, (section 41) , daily routine (section 43 ), nutrition and diet scale (section 44) , medical care ( section 45) and other provisions such as mental health (s46) education (s47) have been specified in Rule 40 , 41 and 50 of  the juvenile justice (care and protection of children ) rules , 2007, which are to be read along with the sections of the Act.

Section 10 of the Act in clear and unambiguous terms stipulates that a juvenile child who in conflict with law once apprehended should be immediately produced before the juvenile justice board without any loss of time but within a period of twenty four hours making sure that the juvenile shall not be placed in a police lock up or lodged in a jail . This allows for speedy justice with no mental or physical strain given to the juvenile .  Section 13  provides the provision on informing the parent , guardian or probation officer about the arrest of the juvenile. This section acknowledges the right of the parents or guardian about the action taken towards the juvenile.

Section 15 and Section 16 stand as the torch bearers of the Act, representing the true objective of the Act i.e to improve and rehabilitate the juvenile. Under Section 15 the Board on being satisfied after the inquiry that the juvenile has committed the offence may  –

  1. Allow the juvenile to go home after advice
  2. Direct the juvenile to participate in group counselling
  3. Order the juvenile to perform community service
  4. Receive a fine from the parent or the juvenile if he is above 14 years of age and earning
  5. Release the juvenile on probation for good conduct under a guardian or parent for not a period more than three years
  6. Release the juvenile on probation for good conduct and be places under any fit institution
  7. Make an order directing the juvenile to be sent to a special home till the period until which he ceases to be a juvenile or if he has attained the age of seventeen years but not yet eighteen years then for a period of not less than two years

Section 16 encompasses of the order that the juvenile justice board cannot pass against a juvenile . the provision explains that “the period of detention so ordered shall not exceed in any case the maximum period under section 15 of this Act. “The object behind section 15 is two fold . Firstly , the jail is not meant for the juvenile in conflict of law , and Secondly , it I to be seen that the juvenile in conflict with law is reformed . it is a good sign of “restorative justice” .Section 16 has a positive approach of looking at methods of correction . the concept of sentence and prison is removed from this Act . The stigma surrounding sentence and jail is removed by this Act . Section 19 allows the juvenile not to suffer any disqualification , if any , attaching to a conviction of an offence under such law . Section 19 allows the juvenile to re live . This Section allows the stain of conviction put on the juvenile to be removed . This section aims at removing any blemish put on the character of the Child due to his undesirable act committed so that to show that the child never committed any crime whether socially or legally scornful [1]. Section 19 read with rule 99 prescribes the board or officer in charge or committee to discard any material on the juvenile after the expiry of seven years .

Section 21 provides for the right of privacy of the juvenile by not allowing the publication of the  child’s name in any newspaper, magazine or media platform . This protects his identification and privacy . The Act envisages an entirely  to create an absolutely safe and secure environment for the juveniles and hence provides in Section 23 that  whoever is having the actual charge of the juvenile will be imprisoned for a term which can be extended to six months or a fine or both on them if that whoever assaults, abandons, exposes or wilfully neglects the juvenile or causes or procures him to be assaulted , abandoned , exposed or neglected that might cause the juvenile unnecessary mental or physical suffering the term “whoever” in section 23 includes “guardian” , “ special home “ ,“ observation home” , “ shelter home “ . It also means that the term “ whoever “ includes the parents of the juvenile or child too. Hence there is a wide interpretation of this Section at the advantage of the juveniles.  Following the same path of legitimizing punishment for ill treaters of Juveniles Section 25 prescribes a fixed compulsory fine for whoever giving up the juvenile for begging . Similarly a penalty is prescribed for giving intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs to the juvenile in section 25  . A provision against child bondage labour has been prescribed in section 26 .

Under chapter III the Act provides for establishment of child welfare committees for child in need of care and protection . Children’s homes (section 34 ) and shelter homes (section 37) are set up by the state government for this category of children under Section 34 and inspection of these are to be done under Section 35 by a committee set up by the state government .  Section 36 allows the state or central government to monitor the childrens homes .

Chapter IV deals with the most important aspect of the Act i.e to rehabilitate and socially reintegrate the juvenile .  The above two terms being the basics of the making of a childhood healthy and growth oriented . To rehabilitate i.e to restore back the good repute of the child can only be done bringing him back to his original state and out of the blurred mind set . this can be done only by social integration i.e connecting to family and its environment .  The Act prescribes four ways of rehabilitating and socially reintegrating the juveniles, these are –

  1. Adoption (Section 41 )
  2. Foster care ( Section 42 )
  • Sponsorship ( Section 43)
  1. Sending the child to an after care organisation (Section 44)

Inserted by Act 33 of 2006 an amendment 62 A was introduced in the Act stating that a state shall constitute a child protection unit to take up matters relating to both the categories of children under this Act for implementation of this Act and establishment and maintenance of the homes , notifying the authorities for rehabilitation and coordination among the authorities

The Juvenile justice (care and protection  of children )Act , 2000 as an amended legislation has been completely been drafted to be a child friendly Act  . It achieves its aim of catering to the development of children in a child friendly approach for their ultimate rehabilitation .

[1] (commentary on juvenile justice ( care and protection of children ) Act 2000 )

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