Juvenile justice


A saga of negligence and apathy


Children are the most vulnerable group in any population. They can be exploited, ill-treated and directed into undesirable channels by anti-social elements. In Legal Aid committee V. UOI, the Supreme Court observed, “children require the protective umbrella of society for better growth and development as they are not in a position to claim their entitlements.”

The state is the foster father for all those children who are deprived of parental care. It has the duty of giving protection to them.

Ideally, every home should be a ‘Child Care Home’ but the ground realities are different. Materialism has adversely affected familial relationships. Consumerism has taken its toll on social bonding. Homes are breaking and indifference has settled in community behaviour. We are evolving as individuals but degenerating as a social animal. In the prevailing cultural and social milieu, children have been led to the doorsteps of criminal world.

According to the National Crime Record Bureau, 32,681 juveniles are arrested by police every year in India on charges of murder, rape, dacoity, robbery, burglary, theft, hurt and other crimes. Six percent of them are girls. Juvenile delinquency has increased by 1.1 per lakh of population in 1995 to 1.7 per lakh of population in 2008. Poverty and illiteracy were the two main causative factors behind this.

In all, 27 per cent of the arrested juveniles were illiterate, 37 per cent under primary, 72 per cent from the BPL families, 6.8 per cent from the middle income group and 0.2 per cent from the high income group. The ill-effects of juvenile delinquency can be mitigated if the fundamental principles for the administration of juvenile justice are put into practice.

The Beijing Rules and Riyadh Guidelines have declared the fundamental rules which should be applied to deal with the problem. India, being a signatory to all the conventions on the Rights of Child, is under legal and moral obligation to enact laws conforming to international standards. Articles 15(3), 21, 21(A), 22(1), 22(2), 23, 234, 37(e), 37(f), 45, 47 and 51A(k) of the Indian Constitution impose a primary responsibility on the state to ensure that all the needs of children are met and their basic human rights are fully protected.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000 and the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007 are the laws to deal with juvenile delinquents and juveniles in need of the care and protection. The Fundamental Principles for Administration of Juvenile Justice, as elaborated in Justice Rules, 2007 include presumption of innocence, right to be heard, positive measures, principles of no harm, no maltreatment and principle of best interest. Unfortunately, the apathy of the law enforcement agencies and the law adjudication authorities have rendered these laws as non-existent.

To provide a child-friendly environment, the cases of ‘juveniles in conflict with law’ are to be adjudicated upon by the Juvenile Justice Board, to be constituted by the state government concerned in every district. Almost all Boards are functioning from the regular court premises, contrary to law.

Childhood is the age for play and personality development and not for facing prolonged trial in the court. The rule 13(6) (d), therefore, rightly prescribed that cases of juveniles should be disposed of by the Board within four months. It can be extended by two months in exceptional cases involving transnational criminality, large number of witnesses and inordinate delay in production of witnesses.

Except in serious crimes, delay in trial beyond six months should automatically lead to termination of the proceedings against the juvenile. Despite the clear mandate of law, lakhs of cases are pending in courts beyond six months. This is illegal and gross injustice to the children.

The state machinery is equally negligent in providing infrastructure and facilities for the juveniles. The Child Welfare Committees to be constituted as per the provisions of JJ Act 2000 and JJ Rules 2007 are not in place in all the states. The Children’s Home and Shelter Home with prescribed facilities are non-extent. The selection committee for social workers to be associated with the Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees under the chairmanship of a retired High Court judge has not been constituted in most states.

The state is required to put the apparatus in place to ensure proper adoption, foster care, sponsorship and rehabilitation of juveniles. The objective is to ensure social reintegration of every juvenile as a normal citizen. A juvenile is the responsibility of the state till he or she attains the age of 18 years. The After Care organisations are designed to prepare the juveniles who have attained adulthood, to rise on their feet.

Unfortunately, the After Care organisations and the Social Reintegration mechanism as envisaged in the JJ Act have not been provided adequately in any of the states. To protect the human rights of children, crimes against children have been separately defined under the Act. All these crimes are cognisable offences where police can register FIRs and arrest offenders without warrant. The police is ignorant and hardly any cognisance is taken under these provisions though the children are suffering atrocities including the exploitation of child labour in public view.

Any law is as good or bad as its enforcement. The Juvenile Justice Act 2000 is the best law and a complete code which anyone can imagine for the juveniles’ care and protection. Deplorably, these laws and rules are not implemented in letter and spirit.

The law enforcement agencies should be told that acting in violation of the law is unpardonable. They can be held liable for their negligence. The only saving grace for them till now is that victims of criminal negligence are poor children who have no spokesperson to raise the voice for them at appropriate forum.

The children’s rights need to be protected if the civilisation has to progress in the right direction. There is an imperative need for sensitising those who are given the responsibility of protecting the children’s rights.

The writer, a senior IPS officer, is Inspector-General of Police, Training, Haryana


Juvenile justice
A saga of negligence and apathy
by K.P. Singh

Children are the most vulnerable group in any population. They can be exploited, ill-treated and directed into undesirable channels by anti-social elements. In Legal Aid committee V. UOI, the Supreme Court observed, “children require the protective umbrella of society for better growth and development as they are not in a position to claim their entitlements.”

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5 Responses

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  1. h k said, on November 16, 2009 at 20:58

    i want to know whether haryana framed j j rule or not

  2. lawreports said, on November 16, 2009 at 21:07

    Yes Haryana has framed the Jj Rules The link of the same is

  3. neha said, on February 24, 2010 at 11:19

    could you please tell more about after care organisation. what they do how they work. how many organistion are in delhi.

  4. rakesh said, on January 21, 2011 at 19:53

    what was the age for a juvenial in the year 1993

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