Trending: Call for Papers Volume 4 | Issue 4: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]



This paper tries to clarify the legal definition of the term “Juvenile” and the actions that the Legislature has designated as necessary should a circumstance emerge where the criminal is a juvenile who has broken the law. This report additionally outlines the development of juvenile laws and compares Indian juvenile laws with those that exist internationally.

New reforms to juvenile justice systems have been made by several states as we go into the twenty-first century. The modifications centre on transfer to adult court, jurisdictional authority, sentencing guidelines and alternatives, correctional programming, sharing of information between agencies, offender confidentiality, and victim involvement. Preventive measures, early intervention, rehabilitation, and the use of specialist courts have all received more emphasis at the same time. In order to pinpoint the fundamental themes and concerns in the evolution of juvenile justice, this paper concentrates on the establishment of sentencing guidelines due to their unique significance in the historical framework of the juvenile court.

In the great majority of cases of teenage lawbreaking, decades of research have shown unequivocally that jail is neither necessary nor beneficial. In fact, as The Sentencing Project has shown, taking children away from their homes often compromises public safety by raising the risk that they will commit new crimes and wind up back in the legal system. In addition, incarceration increases the risk of abuse for many young people and decreases their chances of success in school and the workforce.

Keywords: Juvenile laws, Youth incarceration, Crime, Sentencing, substantial modifications.


A young individual who yet possesses childlike traits is referred described as “juvenile.” Delinquency refers to the act of not abiding by social norms or not carrying out obligations, which may entail breaking the law or doing evil. Fairness, equity, and sincere regard for individuals are all components of “justice.” It is about standing up for moral purity and treating others fairly in opposition to unfair behaviour.

Juvenile justice is a branch of criminal law that tries to serve the needs of young people who aren’t old enough to be prosecuted for their crimes in their entirety.
When young people commit crimes that are against the law, it is known as juvenile delinquency. Ensuring just, fair, and equitable treatment for children and young people in order to help them develop into contributing members of society is known as juvenile justice.

The criminal justice system’s post-conviction framework, known as sentencing, brings an offender before the court to request the imposition of a penalty should they be found guilty in a criminal prosecution. Under the utilitarian theory of the objective sentencing outcome, minors are held to distinct moral evaluation standards.

This viewpoint was strongly supported by the “Neo-classical School,” which claimed that some offenders should receive low sentences because they are minors, dumb, mad, or inept. Consequently, the “reformative and rehabilitative approaches of sentencing” were born out of the advocacy for the application of sentence based on factors such as age, sex, and psychological disorders.


Similar to other nations, India has tackled the problem of juvenile delinquency by enacting laws that particularly protect and grant rights to young offenders.

India’s juvenile justice system is predicated on three main tenets:

  • Instead of being prosecuted in conventional courts, juvenile criminals should get alternative guidance and correction.
  • Courts shouldn’t penalize young criminals; instead, they should give them a chance to turn their lives around and reintegrate into society.
  • When it comes to children who are in legal trouble, the trial process ought to be centred around non-penal therapy, with the help of community-based social control organizations like Special Homes and Observation Homes.
  • The foundation of the juvenile justice system in India is based on these concepts, which prioritize rehabilitation and reintegration over severe punishment for young offenders.


When a juvenile is determined to be delinquent, a judge has the authority to sentence them by issuing a disposition order. While probation and other less harsh options are frequently used, the juvenile may occasionally receive a sentence that includes some time behind bars. A juvenile’s sentence to prison, even if it includes incarceration, is typically different from that of an adult criminal offender receiving a prison sentence. A common form of incarceration is house arrest, placement in a foster home, or placement with a different relative. A judge may also mandate that a minor spend a little time in a juvenile detention centre, maybe with a probationary period thereafter.

A court may impose a lengthier sentence of imprisonment in a secure juvenile facility on a minor who has committed a more serious offense. This tenure may extend to a full year or longer. A minor may be sentenced to time in a normal jail or prison under certain exceptional circumstances. If they commit a significant offense when they are almost at the age of majority, they might get a mixed punishment. This implies that they are first imprisoned as minors and, after they turn majority, are moved to adult jails or prisons.

As stated in the Act, juvenile offenders facing a maximum term of three years are subject to prosecution for both major and minor offenses. If the offender is an adult, the maximum punishment that can be applied is seven years in prison, life in prison, or even death.


Juvenile court judges frequently believe that sanctions other than jail time will be more effective in helping the young person get back on track. In addition to community service, counselling, payment of fines or restitution, and the use of an ankle or wrist tracker device, they may also impose further conditions on the minor. A judge might even give the kid a verbal reprimand and let them leave if they have no criminal history and have only committed a small infraction.

In the juvenile court system, probation is arguably the most common punishment. Judges can decide the conditions of probation with a great deal of discretion. They could be particular to the case’s circumstances. Curfews, educational plans, therapeutic plans, counselling, community work, and limitations on the number of other minors the delinquent juvenile can associate with are a few possible probationary conditions. Parents or legal guardians are in charge of assisting the minor in adhering to the conditions of probation if they reside with them.

Regular meetings between the juvenile and a probation officer will ensure that the terms of probation are being followed. The probation officer must be notified if the juvenile’s parent or guardian learns that they have broken a probationary condition. Subsequently, the probation officer will submit a probation violation notification to the court. The judge will decide whether to revoke probation after considering the circumstances. Although it is not a given, a probation breach may result in a jail sentence.


An adult may appeal a criminal sentence, while a minor may appeal a disposition order. If their circumstances change, they can also ask the court who issued the order to alter it. The minor must demonstrate that the modification is in their best interests and would suit their needs. Generally speaking, adults in criminal trials are not granted this option.


In Mukesh and Anr vs. State of NCT of Delhi &Or’s (2017), the case that is popularly referred to as the Nirbhaya rape case, it was argued that the age of the accused should not be a factor in determining the degree of cruelty directed towards the victim. It was discovered that he had inflicted internal injuries on the woman, violently tormented her with an iron rod, and swore at her. The adolescent was ultimately released from custody after serving the whole sentence that the court had set to him.

Because there are no laws addressing such horrible crimes committed by so-called “children,” advocate Shweta Kapoor filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court, calling for changes to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 to deal with minors who have turned 16 and are involved in serious crimes. According to the PIL, minors who commit serious crimes after the age of 16 have grown brains and don’t need the support and protection of society. Instead, society needs to be protected from them and given care.

A youngster was allegedly involved in a horrific act of rape in the State of Maharashtra vs. Vijay Mohan Jadhav & Ors (2021) case, which is also referred to as the Shakti Mills rape case. One of the accused rapists in this case was a minor. One of the main suspects in this case was a minor who was given a sentence of only three years in a juvenile detention centre; the adult offenders received death sentences. I wonder if the current penalty is enough to turn a young person around.

It’s also important to think about what the word “heinous” means. For a 16- or 17-year-old to face an adult trial, they must be accused of a serious offense. “Those offences for which the minimum punishment under the IPC, 1860 or any other legislation for the time being in force is imprisonment for seven years or more,” according to Section 2(33) of the 2015 Act, shall be considered as heinous offences. It is certainly a victory for the Indian legal system because in certain cases 16 to 18-year-olds can be tried as adults; yet the definition of heinous seems to be incorrect. This was shown in the case of Saurabh Jalinder Nangre vs. Maharashtra (2018).


The juvenile justice system has seen a discernible change. It now allows for some degree of consequence rather than just protection. A comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of the juvenile justice system is necessary for stakeholders to facilitate the complete rehabilitation of young offenders. The juvenile justice system’s primary objective is to help young people, not to punish them. The nation needs to recommit itself to the care of these youth if it is to reform and properly reintegrate them into society. In many countries throughout the world, deterrent tactics are giving way to restorative and reformative justice practices. India’s legal system is based on generally accepted principles and practices, making it rather progressive.

Furthermore, the development of India’s juvenile justice system has been influenced by historical, cultural, and global factors. Respecting adolescents’ rights and providing them with opportunities for rehabilitation is one tenet that will never waver. India’s juvenile justice system needs to be improved more as it develops in order to meet international standards and cater for the unique needs and difficulties of the country’s diverse youth population. By achieving this, India will be able to foster a more inclusive and compassionate society and enable its youth to lead happy and productive lives.

Authored By- Smriti Verma. 4th Year BA.LLB (Hons.), Amity University, Lucknow.

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