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Juvenile Justice System in India


Juvenile Justice System in India



A Latin maxim that suits best for the Juvenile Justice system in India is ‘Nil Novi Spectrum’ which implies that nothing is new on this earth. There has existed a presumption in the whole world since the ancient period that the Juveniles should be dealt leniently because there exists a system of thought that says– Young folks generally have a habit to respond in a serious and prolonged frustration which is accompanied with aggressive approaches.

In the last few years, it is also observed that the crimes done by children under the age of 15-16 have increased significantly. The general tendency or the psychology behind the commitment of the crime or the causes of crime are early-life experiences, dominant masculinity, upbringing, economic havocs, lack of education, etc. It is a matter of ignominy that the children under the age of 6-10 are nowadays used as instruments for carrying out unlawful or illegal activities. Since the minds of the kids possess an innocent and manipulative character, they can be lured at a meagre cost.

Definition of Child and Juvenile

The child who has committed an offence and he or she is under the age of 18 years on the date of commission of the offence is basically called as “child in conflict with law”. The second sub – category is “child in need of care and protection” means a child ad defined under Section 14 of the Act.

  • Children Act, 1960: Section 2(e) of the Act states “child” means a boy who has not attained the age of sixteen years or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years. 

  • United Nations Convention: The UN Convention on the Rights of Child, 1989 defines that “child” means a human being below the age of eighteen years unless the law declaration applicable to child, majority is attained earlier. 

Difference between Juvenile and Child

A person under the age of full legal obligation and responsibility is a minor or a person who is below the legal age of eighteen years is minor. A child being accused of a crime is not tried as an adult and is sent to the Child Care Centre whereas juvenile is a person between the age group of sixteen and eighteen years. A young person who is been accused of crime is a juvenile offender and is tried as adult in court proceedings.

History of Juvenile Justice System in India

In present era, a movement for the special treatment of juvenile offenders has started throughout the world including many developed countries like U.K., U.S.A. This movement has been started around the 18th century.  Prior to this, juvenile offenders were treated as same as other criminal offenders. And for the same reason, General Assembly of United Nations has adopted a Convention on the Rights of Child on 20th November 1989. This convention seeks to protect the best interest of juvenile offenders. The Convention states that to protect the social – reintegration of juvenile, there shall be no judicial proceeding and court trials against them. The Convention leads the Indian Legislation to repeal the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986   and to make a new law. Thus, Indian Legislation came up with a new act which was called as “The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

Present Juvenile Justice System in India

Like the other countries, India had also made legal provisions that especially and specifically deals with the rights and protection of juvenile offenders which seeks to tackle the problem of juvenile delinquency. The Juvenile Justice System in India is made on the basis of three main assumptions:-

  1. young offenders should not be tried in courts, rather they should be corrected in all the best possible ways,

  2. they should not be punished by the courts, but they should get a chance to reform

  3. trial for child in conflict with law should be based on non-penal treatment through the communities based upon the social control agencies for e.g. Observation Homes and Special Homes. 

Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

The Juvenile Justice act of 2015 replaced the Juvenile Justice act of 2000 because there existed a need for a more robust and effective justice system that focused on deterrent as well as reformative approaches. The approach towards Juveniles should be different from that of adults, there were contentions made in the Parliament that the Juveniles should be given more space for transformation or reformation or improvement and that is only possible when there’s a special justice system. Thus, the new act i.e., the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2015 focused on a Juvenile friendly approach of adjudication and disposition of matters.

  • With the coming of the 2015 Act, the scope of the definition of ‘Child in need of care & protection’ was enhanced to another level by considering the following points from the many mentioned in Section 2 (14) of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2015:


  1. Those whose guardians or parents are/ were unfit or uninterested in taking care of the child.

  2. Those who are/ were found performing works that are in contravention to the labour laws.

  3. Ones who have the imminent threat of marriage before attaining the specified lawful age.

  4. The meaning of adoption has also been specified in the Act through which the rights an adopted child stands recognized.


Juvenile Justice Board

There shall be a constitution of Board for the purpose of inquiry and hearing in the matters of juvenile in conflict with law. 

The Board shall consists of Principal Magistrate and two social workers, among whom one should be a women. The Act provides that under no circumstances the Board can regulate and operate from regular court premises. The decision taken by the Principal Magistrate shall be final.


The increasing rates of juvenile crime in India in very concerning issue and need to be focused upon. Although government has laid various legislation and rules to stop the incidents of juvenile crimes but the present laws on juveniles is not creating a deterrent effect on the juveniles and thus the results are not fruitful and legislative intent is not accomplishing.








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