Juvenile Delinquency: An Unresolved Problem
This Blog is written by Jatin Pandey from Dharmashastra National Law University, Jabalpur. Edited by Pranoy Singhla.
Recently, Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court observed while deciding the bail application filed by the child in conflict with law observed that JJ Act is inadequate to deal with juveniles who committed the heinous offence and are below the age of 16 years.The court also observed that “Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, gives a free hand to the delinquents under the age of 16 years to commit heinous offences.”. These observations clearly indicates that they are many lacunas in the system which deals with juveniles. In this article I will try to highlight them also try to suggest some solutions to resolve them
Section 2(12) of the Juvenile Justice Act defines who is child under the act, according to it a person who is below the age of 18 years is a child. Section 2 (13) of the Juvenile Justice Act defines who is child in conflict with law under this act. According to this section child who commits or alleged to commit the offence and child has not completed 18 years of age is considered as child in conflict with law under this act. When we read Indian Penal Code of 1860, we found that it categorizes child into three categories. Section 82 of the Indian Penal code deals with the first categories which states that “Nothing is an offence which is done by a child under seven years of age.” Section 83 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the second category which states Noting is an offence which is done by the child who is above the age of 7 years and under the age of 12 years but it is subject to sufficient maturity of understanding. Third category deals with the child who is above 12 years of age and has not completed 18 years of age.
Before 2015, if a person who is below the age of 18 years at the time of the commission of the offence commits an offence and found guilty by the court then maximum child can be sent to the children reform center or special homes for the period of maximum three years. But after the infamous Delhi rape case shaken up the souls of the people of India as well as our legislators when 5 accused awarded death penalty by the trial court and juvenile accused sent to child reform center for the period of three year only. This forced legislators to reform such existing law related to juveniles after the nation-wide movement started demanding reform in the law. Then government introduced amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 by the Juvenile Justice Bill of 2015 in the parliament and subsequently parliament passed the bill and later on it became the act after the assent from the president of India. After the amendment the child between the age of 16 and 18 years can be treated as the adult subject to the confirmation from the board constituted under the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015.
When the said amendment introduced in the parliament at that time many legal researchers doubted the intention of government behind the introduction of bill. They argued that the government introduced the bill for satisfying the demand raised in the movement after the incident juvenile accused of Nirbhaya only awarded with punishment of three years in children reform center. They also argued that government does not consider the present situation and no proper legal research was done while drafting the bill. The juvenile in Nirbhaya is approximately 17 years old, to curb all such problems government brought a amendment so that 16 year child can also be tried as an adult subject to the confirmation of the board. But recently Indore bench Madhya Pradesh High Court while denying bail to 15-year-old juvenile observed “Apparently, the present law to deal with such cases is totally inadequate and ill-equipped and this Court really wonders as to how many more Nirbhaya”. This shows that the present system which deals with the juveniles is not adequate enough or solid enough to solve the problem of juvenile delinquency.
Children are born selfless and crime-free; it is their environment that reinforces crime in them. For children to grow up in a crime-free environment, optimal growth, enough resource availability, equitable opportunity, and a healthy environment are required. Interdisciplinary studies on juvenile delinquency demonstrate that various behavioral changes in juveniles/adolescents occur around the world, which are linked to rapid changes in their bodies due to hormonal surges connected with puberty. It has been shown that a juvenile’s social environment has a significant impact on their deviant tendencies. Among these factors, community ties and social organization can play a significant role in a juvenile’s delinquent behavior. The hormonal changes in the bodies of adolescents are to blame for their impulsive and rebellious behavior. Environmental/environmental, as well as economic, factors have a vital role in the lives of juveniles. However, it is frequently a mixture of these variables that leads to a condition of juvenile delinquency.
In the same talk, it was mentioned that children are unable to control their biological impulses triggered by hormone shifts. Because societal control in the former (cities) has diminished, there are more rape cases in urban regions than in rural areas.
PROVISION OF LAW RELATED TO JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
In 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was enacted marking a pivotal point in international Human Rights legislation. It stated clearly what children’s rights are and why they should be protected. The CRC’s rights-based approach resulted in changes in the areas of social justice, equity, and the empowerment of young people. In 1992, India ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and since then, it has enacted a number of laws to protect children’s rights. In India, the Juvenile Justice Act is one such piece of legislation that addresses the issue of delinquent children in a straightforward and comprehensive manner.
Section 2(12) of the Juvenile Justice Act defines the definition of child under the act
“Child means a person who has not completed eighteen years of age”
Section 82 of Indian Penal Code states that
“Nothing is an offence which is done by a child under seven years of age.”
Section 2(13) of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 defines child in conflict with law
“Child in conflict with law means a child who is alleged or found to have committed an offence and who has not completed eighteen years of age on the date of commission of such offence.”
Mukesh and Anr. v. N.C.T OF Delhi
In this case, a juvenile who was a few months short to complete 18 years of age was sentenced to three years in prison, yet it was claimed that he was an active participant in the rape case. It enraged the public, and it was argued that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, needed to be revised, and the statute was later amended.
Munna v. State of UP
The Supreme Court issued certain guidelines for children in jail. Even if a child is found guilty of an offence, the Supreme Court ruled that he should not be mistreated. When they go to jail, they should not be deprived of their fundamental rights.
Till now one thing is clear that the present system which deals with the juvenile delinquent suffers from many deficiencies. As discussed earlier a boy who committed a rape with a 10-year-old girl two time can not treated as adult because of the protection granted under the section 15 of Juvenile Justice Act. Instead of taking a punitive approach to child misbehavior, the court should use a reformative approach. The state should make an effort to create such an environment in order to reintegrate delinquents into society. Because the Juvenile Justice Board is so important, a unique training programme in child psychology for JJB members should be conducted.
The government should work to properly implement the Act, as well as take a reformative approach by attempting to engage juveniles in skilled work so that they can live a peaceful life afterward.
Existing regulations in India (before to 2016) were not proving to be a deterrent, as seen by crime trends. Children are prone to delinquent inclinations due to their continual exposure to violence and lack of awareness of the repercussions of crimes committed. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of certain people who can act as responsible guardians by providing children with information and assisting them in sifting the information they receive from various sources. S In the face of rapid industrialization and globalization, individuals’ self-discipline and parental restraint, which were once sufficient to prevent them from committing crimes, have weakened. In Indian civilization, primary socialization through groups such as family, peer groups, traditional neighborhood bonds, and intimate kin circles is rapidly becoming ineffective. All these problem leads to child delinquency
It’s important to remember that the legal system is a subset of the greater social structure. Any change in the greater total, i.e., society, demands changes in the constituent parts, or smaller subsystems. As a result, while society is changing at a rapid speed, the legal system must keep up.
(1) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322918203_JUVENILE_DELINQUENC IN_INDIALATEST_TRENDS_AND_ENTAILING_AMENDMENTS_IN_JUVENILE_JUSTICE_ACT
 Section 2(12) of the Juvenile Justice Act.
 Section 2(13) of the Juvenile Justice Act.
 Section 2(12) of the Juvenile Justice Act.
 Section 82 of Indian Penal Code.
 Section 2(13) of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015.
 2017) 6 SCC 1.
 AIR 1982 SC 806.