JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: LAW AND SOCIETY
Author: Lavanya Bhatt, I year of B.A.,LL.B. from Delhi Metropolitan Education affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi
Every society has its Legal System wherein the law is the governing force that binds the society together. It is the body of rules that guides human conduct in the form of social control, without which Anarchy would prevail in society. The citizens are bound to follow the rules set by the governing authority to maintain harmony and those who don’t, are usually given suitable punishments.
There are different facets to law. Theorists and propounders have consistently stated that the views in society keep on evolving with time, especially in criminal jurisprudence. If any harm is criminalized by the legislature, the law offers means through which the perpetrator can be prosecuted by the State. Perpetrators can be in the form of any category of individuals, like men, women or even children often classified as juveniles under the law.
Initially, as Common law, from which the Indian Legal System has been derived, had no separate courts or trials for juveniles, so youth offenders were really sentenced to the same harsh punishments as adults. It was in the 1800s when children were being recognized as of tender age, lacking maturity and outlook. Thus, the idea of the Juvenile Justice System emerged, where the focus was shifted from the offence to the transformation of the youthful offender. The Juvenile Justice System in India regards two categories of Juveniles. The first category includes the ones who have committed an offence and are in disagreement with the law, whereas the second category includes the ones who are deprived of rights by various sections of society and require care and protection.
Firstly, it is important to know who a juvenile is. The Oxford Dictionary, in simple terms, defines the word ‘Juvenile’ as ‘a young person who is not an adult yet’. On the other hand, s.2(h) of the Juvenile Justice Act,1986 defines that ‘Juvenile’ means a boy who has not attained the age of sixteen years or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years.
Also, according to Rule 4, of United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, the concept of the age of criminal responsibility for juveniles, the beginning of that age shall not be fixed at too low an age level, bearing in mind the facts of emotional, mental and intellectual maturity.
JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
The Juvenile Justice System is a branch of Criminal Justice that deals with the crimes committed by minors, i.e., individuals under the age of 18 years. Under this, there are separate courts made for Juveniles and the offenders are tried in different ways than those of the adults. The process is known as “Adjudication”.
Working of the juvenile justice system
The Juvenile Justice System works in nine major decision-based steps: Arrest, Referral to court, Diversion, Secure Detention, Judicial waiver to Adult Criminal court, Case Petitioning, Delinquency finding, Probation and, Residential Placement including secure confinement. It focuses on providing specialized and preventive treatment and advice to minors with an intention of future prevention, rehabilitation, and improved socialization.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, ratified in India in theyear1992-all children are born with fundamental rights.
a. Right to Survival–to life, health, nutrition, name, nationality
b. Right to Development–to education, care, leisure, recreation, cultural activities
c. Right to Protection–from exploitation,abuse,neglect
d. Right to Participation–to expression,information,thought,religion
Even though children account for more than 1/3rd of the population of India, their rights and interests have never been prioritized. Children have been deprived of these basic rights almost every day. Because of the lack of care, protection, moral values there has been an increase in crime committed by minors.
CAUSES OF MINOR CRIMES
The rising number of such crimes focuses on the urgent need to find about the factors contributing to it, like, parental care, the difference in temperaments, family influences, peer relationships, policies in school, lack of moral guidance, alcohols, drugs, child abuse, ganging, poverty, etc. Changes in legal policies, for example, reactions to aggressive behaviour at home may clarify the expanded arrests as opposed to an increase in assaults by young ladies. Treatment given by the family may lead to gender biases, resulting in juvenile arrests for assaults. Policies of compulsory arrest for abusive behaviour at home furnish guardians with a technique for controlling their raucous girls.
The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, therefore, provides a distinct approach towards protection, prevention, and treatment of both male and female delinquency and offers a distinctive framework to help to rehabilitate the children in the horizon of the Juvenile Justice System.
1. Art. 15 of Constitutional Mandates says that “nothing in this Art. shall prevent the state from making any special provision for women and children.”
2. Art. 39(e) of The Constitution of India states that “the health and strength of workers, men, and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.”
3. Art.39 (f) of The Constitution of India states that“children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and you are protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.”
4. Art. 45 of The Constitution of India states the provision for free and compulsory education for children The State shall endeavour to provide, within ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.
5. Art. 47 of The Constitution of India states the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.
6. Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the child, they advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs, and to express their opportunities for each their full potential.
7. The Juvenile Justice Act 1986 was designed for the care, rehabilitation, protection and development of neglected delinquent minors.
8. The Juvenile (Care and Protection of Children) Justice Act 2002 created a separate system of justice dispensation for the minors accused of offences.
1. Sher Singh Sheru vs State of U.P. on 21 September, 2016
The appellant had moved an application for declaring him to be juvenile before the concerned Court in Session Trial No. 188 of 2004. The Juvenile Justice Board rejected the plea of the appellant after getting a medical report from the Chief Medical Officer, Mathura dated 4.7.2005.
2. Hari Ram vs State of Rajasthan & Anr on 5 May 2009
The appellant, Hari Ram was arrested with others for the alleged commission of offences under s.148, 302, 149, 325 read with s.149,323 OF Indian Penal Code. The sum and substance of the above discussion are that in one set of cases this Court has found the juvenile guilty of the crime alleged to have been committed by him but he has gone virtually unpunished since this Court quashed the sentence awarded to him.
DELINQUENCY AND ITS TYPES
Delinquency and youth violence have been increasing rapidly. Delinquency is criminal behaviour, especially the one carried out by juveniles. It is antisocial behaviour, beyond parental control which leads to legal actions and proceedings.
Delinquency is of two types
1. Overt Delinquency: This includes violent offenses such as threatening to kill someone, attacking someone with or without a weapon, murder, rape,etc.
2. Covert Delinquency:This Includes Non-violent offenses such as vandalism, drug dealing,pick pocketing,etc.
JUVENILE JUSTICE BOARD
The Juvenile (Care & Protection of Child) Justice Rules of the year 2007, in s.4 has initiated the formation of the Juvenile Justice Board. Under this, there shall be one or more than one juvenile Justice Board in every district constituted by the State Government. The composition of the boards is defined in s.5 where there will be a Principal Magistrate at the Metropolitan level or a Judicial Magistrate appointed by the State Government through their commendation of the Selection Committee. The Committee’s main function is to make sure that no minor is ill-treated and that the adjudication is proper and speedy.
Detention is the temporary jailing of the youth who have committed a crime and are awaiting the disposition of their cases. The purpose of this detention is to decide whether or not to release the child to his parents Loretta in his/ her custody.
At present, about 500,000 juveniles are being detained each year, and the number of juvenile detainees increased steadily during the 1990s. About two‐thirds of the juveniles in detention are awaiting adjudication. Lately, there has been an expansion of female detainment. Detained Juveniles are physically, mentally, and emotionally isolated from their families and communities. Usually, detained juveniles are housed in stuffed, crowded offices—an environment that plans to raise disregard and brutality.
Rather than reducing the wrongdoing, the demonstration of imprisoning youth may indeed encourage expanded wrongdoing by disturbing the recidivism of youth who are detained. Detention additionally pulls youth more profound into the adolescent and criminal equity framework. A few investigations have shown that adolescents who are imprisoned are bound to recidivate than youth who are directed in a locally based setting, or not confined by any stretch of the imagination.
We must get the right service to the right kid at the right time. The rising delinquency is a major issue since it determines the value of the next generation of our country. It is generally caused as a reaction to a range of complex problems in society. The previous twenty years have been a turbulent period for the Indian adolescent equity framework. With the increasing rate of child delinquency, more programs have to be made for the correction of this issue. The differentiation between male and female must not be made and each and everyone should be treated equally. The teaching of what is right and what is not should begin from their home itself. Government and authorities also have an important role to play in this with diligence. Reformatory measures have been wide and new laws have been outlined and along these lines young ladies as well as men should be given some additional help. Taking the proper measures would help the growth of the minors as well as the country.