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 Juvenile Justice in India

It was stated that as long as children are allowed to suffer there is no true love in the world. The minors were exempted from the punishments and the fines because there had to be a difference in the level of understanding of a 8 year old and an 18 year old. The immunity to children is based on the principles of Juvenile Justice Act. The constitutional basis for juvenile justice can be derived from Articles 15(3), 39(e) and (f) of the Constitution. Article 15(3) provides that “Nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any laws regarding women and children’. Article 39 forms a part if the directive principles of the state policy. Clause (e) of Article 39 provides inter alia, that the tender age of children is not abused. Clause (f) stipulates that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment. 

What Indian Penal Code says on JJ Act:

According to Section 82 up to 7 years of age there is an absolute irrefutable presumption that the child is doli incapax. This immunity is granted to the children below seven years on the pragmatic approach of the state that children below seven years are not capable hence they do not have the capacity to have the requisite mensrea. In a case where a boy f seven years of age discovered a hidden disc of gold weighing28 tolas and he did not report this to the collector as required under the Treasure Trove Act. The Patna High Court held that the boy was protected under the Section 82 of IPC from being convicted under the Treasure Trove Act. According to Section 83.if the child does not attain maturity of mind the burden of proof lies with the child. To make them liable they must attain maturity of mind and this is called “mischievous discretion” under English Law. The children of this age will have to prove that there was no maturity of mind when the act committed and therefore no mensrea. In the case of R.v.Krishna where a child of 9 years stole a silver chain and sold it in 5 annas the lower courts convicted the buyer and acquitted the child. The High Court held that in this case the child is wrongfully acquitted. In the case of Harilal Mallick v. State of Bihar it was held that not only a proof of a child being under 12 but also it has to be proved that the child did not have enough understanding at that point of time and was immature. If no sufficient proof is laid down in front of the court to prove the immaturity of the child then it will be presumed that the child- accused intended to do what he really did. Thus in this case where a child of 12 or so used a sharp sword in killing a person along with his two brothers and no evidence either of age or immaturity or understanding was led on his behalf, thus held liable.

What Juvenile Justice Act says of Juvenile :

Section 2(a) of the Juvenile Justice Act 1986 defines the term juvenile as a ‘boy who has not attained the age of 16 years and a girl who has not attained the age of 18 years”. This definition is wider than the definition provided under Section 82 and 83 of the Indian Penal Code. The Act provides that no juvenile can be sentenced to death or imprisonment or committed to prison in default of payment or in default of furnishing security. The Act stipulates that the Juvenile should be sent home after advice or admonition, released on probation of good conduct and placed under the care of parent or guardian or sent to a special home. The Act of 2000 rises the age of the juvenile’s up to 18 years as seen in the case of Vijay Singh v. State of U.P. When presumption of juvenile innocence is sought to be displaced by the prosecution on the basis of circumstantial evidence the circumstance must unmistakably prove the guilt beyond doubt this has also been seen in the case of Sakha Ram v. State of M.P

The age of the accused at the time of commission of the offence is relevant and the age at that relevant point in time is what has to be determined. In the case of Bhoop Ram v. State of UP there was a conflict between the age of the accused as according to the medical reports he had attained the age of 16 and as off the school certificate he was still below 16. As a possibility of an error creeping into the estimation of the age cannot be ruled out and as there was no proof of there being a misrepresentation of age in the school certificates the age was considered as below 16. The accused faced a charge of murder had been sentenced to life imprisonment. The Supreme Court in view of the fact that the accused had been wrongly sentenced to imprisonment instead of being treated as a child, quashed the sentence awarded to him and directed his release. In the case of Gopinath Ghosh v. State of West Bengal the defense of being a minor was raised for the first time. In the case of Bhola Bhagat v. State of Bihar it was stated that when an accused pleads defense under infancy it is compulsory for the court to look into the age factor of the accused as on when the act been committed.

Section 82 exempts a child from any kind of criminal liability. As per Section 18 of the Juvenile Justice Act 1986, any juvenile accused of bailable or non-bailable offence shall be released on bail with or without surety. He cannot be put in a police station or jail. If in the interest of the juvenile, the officers are of the opinion that the juvenile should not be released on bail, he should then be kept in an observation home or a place of safety, and the parents should be informed immediately. The date for observing the age of the child is the date on which the offence is committed as seen in the case of Mahendra Singh v. State of Rajasthan.

All Juveniles committing an offence shall be produced before the juvenile court as per Section 20 of the Juvenile Justice Act. They should not be produced in front of any other court. If a case in front of the sessions judge then he is supposed to look into the age of the accused and if on inquiry if found to be a juvenile he may be forwarded to the Juvenile Court for trial as seen in the case of Arjun Ram v. State of Rajasthan. In the case of Daljit Singh v. State of Punjab a juvenile who was not sent to the Juvenile justice court after ascertaining the accused to be a minor it was said to be an error jurisdiction. In a murder case when accused was aged 14-15 years at time of commission of offence and was not treated as juvenile under the Act and convicted under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, his conviction was maintained but the sentence imposed on him quash under Section 20 and 21 (i) (d) of the 1986 Act. His bail bond stood discharged and the order imposing fine was set aside.

They should not be tried with or charged with any other offender who is not a juvenile. Section 22 provides that no juvenile shall be sentenced to death or imprisonment or committed to a prison in default of payment or fine. If a juvenile arrested and not produced in front of the magistrate within 24 hours then the confession recorded in that period would be presumed to be involuntary and irrelevant as seen in the case of Bhagan v. State of Pepsu .

Section 28 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 speaks about alternative punishment and states that if a juvenile commits an act punishable under this act or any other state act the accused shall be punished only under such act which provides for punishment which is greater in degree. This Section is similar to the Section 45. of the replaced act of 1986.

Section 9 of Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 when a Juvenile girl produced before court is not claimed by any person and she is not a delinquent juvenile, court must ensure that she is kept in place of safety until she attains majority as seen in the case of R. Rathinam v. Kamala Vaiduriam.

1.4 Conclusion:

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 is far from being a perfect legislation to protect and promote the rights of children. The mistakes in the earlier law have been replicated in the present enactment. It is still left to the discretion of the respective State governments to set up the mechanism mentioned under the Act, despite a demand that the full implementation of the Act be made mandatory. The juvenile justice system is presently in limbo. Let us hope that respective State governments fill the lacunae by preparing comprehensive rules in consultation with child rights experts and non-governmental organizations. The Central government is empowered under Section 70 to remove, within two years of the Act having come into force, any difficulty that hampers its effective implementation. Let us put the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act to test, and make most of this provision to streamline its efficiency, keeping children centre-stage. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 lays down the primary law for not only the care and protection of the children but also for the adjudication and disposition of matters relating to children in conflict with law. The Juvenile Justice System is limited in its application to the children committing offences and others in need of care and protection.

Reasons for Juvenile committing crime:

Over the years, criminologists have put forth a wide variety of motives for what causes crime. People who deal with young people cite the following root conditions: poverty, family factors, the environment, media influence, and declining social morality. These will be taken up in order:

1. Poverty. 

2. Family Factors

3. Media Influence

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Category Criminal Law, Other Articles by - G. ARAVINTHAN