Recently, in a few years, many cases of juvenile delinquency remained in the news. Some of them were serious cases like murder and rape that shook the consciences of our society. Juvenile delinquent, literal meaning of this term is ‘young offender’, a teenager irrespective of their gender who has committed a crime. Juvenile Justice Act 1986, which became the first law regarding juvenile justice in India used the word juvenile delinquent, later in 2000, the new juvenile justice act came into force and introduced a new word juvenile in conflict with law.
But in December 2012, an unfortunate horrific Delhi gang-rape case happened that shook the entire country and greatly impacted public perception. People started to feel that the juvenile justice act is very lenient and it should be stringent. As a result, specifically, a provision was added to the 2015 Juvenile Justice Act, under which if a child between the age of 16 to 18 years commits any heinous or serious crime then after the preliminary assessment of his maturity if the juvenile justice board finds it appropriate that his/her trial should be done like an adult then their case can be transferred to children’s coat and then the children’s coat will decide whether the child should be trialed under juvenile justice act or under the provisions of CrPc, and if their trial will be done under crpc like an adult then he/she will be given punishment under IPC, but here also keep in mind that two types of punishments cannot be given to any child in conflict with the law, the first death penalty, and second life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
Favor of rights and transfer of cases of children over 16 years of age for committing serious crimes, the provision I just told you to give it effect in 2015 juvenile justice act crime was divided into three parts, 1st petty offense, 2nd serious offense, and 3rd heinous offense. Petty offence includes a crime for which an adult under regular criminal justice system is sentenced to maximum of three years of imprisonment. For example- section 379 IPC which is for theft, when such crime is committed by a minor then there is summary proceeding of those cases under juvenile justice board. Serious offence involves a crime in which an adult under regular criminal justice system is sentenced to 3 to 7 years of imprisonment, for example- section 326(b) of IPC which is for acid attack where punishment is for 5 to 7 years. When a minor commits such crime, then the processing of their case will be conducted as summoned case under the juvenile justice board. Heinous crime is one for which an adult under regular criminal justice system gets a minimum of 7 years of imprisonment and even more which last on death penalty, for example- section 376 of IPC which is for rape where minimum punishment is 7 years and maximum life imprisonment. When a minor commits such a crime, then if he/she is less than 16 years then their cases will be heard in juvenile justice board only, but if they are between 16 to 18 years then their cases proceed either in juvenile justice board or in children’s court as per the seriousness of that crime.
Juvenile justice act is a remedial and a corrective law, therefore, the interpretation of its provision is for the best interest and for the benefit of child in conflict with law. As juvenile justice board ensure child’s right and protect it throughout the process of inquiry, after case and rehabilitation and also ensures the proper availability of legal aid to them. Juvenile justice board conduct at least one inspection visit every month of CCI’s meant for children in conflict with the law and also conduct regular inspection of jail. Juvenile justice board passes order for readmission of child in school and also provides deploy service of student volunteers or NGO’s for Para legal tasks.
Author: Pratyaksha, IMS law college Noida