Author: Tanya Singh, V year of B.A., LL.B. from Banasthali University, Rajasthan
Our nation’s future depends upon the young generation and the children deserve compassion and conferral of the best care to protect this proliferate human resource. A child is born innocent and if nurtured with tender care and attention, he or she will burgeon with faculties physical, mental, moral and spiritual into a person of stature and excellence. On the other hand, pernicious surroundings, neglect of basic needs, bad company and other abuses and temptations would spoil the child and likely to turn into delinquent. Our children being an important asset, every effort should be made to provide them equal opportunities for development so that they become robust citizens, psychically fit, mentally alert and morally healthy equipped with the skills and motivation needed by society. There are other influences such as population, social, economic and political changes that account for the growing incidence of juvenile delinquency, particularly in developing and third-world countries.
What does it mean?
The term delinquency has been derived from the Latin word “delinquer” which means “to omit”. The Romans use this term for the failure of a person to perform the assigned task or duty. It was William Coxson who in 1484 used the term “delinquent” to describe a person found guilty for the customary offence. In simpler words, it may be said that delinquency is a form of behaviour or rather misbehaviour or derivation from the generally accepted norms of conduct in society. However, a penologist has interpreted the word juvenile delinquency differently. Generally speaking, the term refers to a large variety of disapproved behaviour of child and adolescent which the society does not approve of and from which some kind of remonstrance, punishment or corrective measure is justified in the public interest. Thus, the term has a very extensive meaning and includes rebellious and hostile behaviour of children and their attitude of indifference towards society. In a broad sense, juvenile delinquency refers to a variety of anti-social behaviour of a child and is defined somewhat differently by different societies through a common converging tendency.
Juvenile Justice in India
Juvenile delinquencies in India babble that the problem is not as tense as in the western world. This may be due to variations in living conditions such as greater family amalgamation and parental control, the stronghold of religious convictions and due regard for moral precepts in Indian Society. Accordingly, there has been a considerable growth in crimes committed by juveniles. India like other countries also seeks to tackle the problem of juvenile delinquency based on 3 fundamental assumptions:
• Young offenders should not be tried, they should rather be corrected
• They should not be published but reformed
• Exclusion of delinquents
It provides that any violation of existing penal law of the country committed by a child under 10 years of age, shall be an act in conflict with the law for the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Justice Board, and it is significant to note that the Juvenile Justice act, 2000 laid down a separate procedure for dealing with the neglected and uncontrollable juveniles who were termed as children in need of care and protection. The former is to be dealt with by the Juvenile Justice Board. A special provision also exists in the IPC, CrPC, 1973 concerning the young and juveniles’ offenders which provide for their special treatment and procedure.
How Juvenile justice is different from the Criminal Justice System
The Supreme Court in Dr. Subramanian Swamy & Ors. Vs Raju Through a member of J.J Board & Another  has clarified that the juvenile justice system and criminal justice system are different from each other. They have different aims, while the criminal trial is antagonistic, the juvenile trial is child friendly. The difference between the 2 system is as follows-
• In the case of juveniles, offenders, FIR and charge sheet are filed only in serious cases where the punishment for the offence exceeds 7 years, and a juvenile in the conflict of law is not arrested but apprehended only when the allegation is for a serious crime.
• One apprehended the police must immediately plea such juvenile under the care of a welfare officer who produces him/her before the juvenile justice board.
• Under no circumstances is the juvenile to be detained in jail or police custody.
• Grant of bail to the juvenile offender in conflict with law is a rule.
• Juvenile system establishes post-trial avenues for the juvenile to enable him to make an honest living.
Juvenile Delinquency in other countries
The problem of juvenile delinquency remains a paradox despite unbridled efforts on the part of the penologist to curb its menace. Several causes such as poverty, slum dwelling, neglect or partiality by parents towards their children, lack of parental care or social security may be attributed to the unrivalled increase in juvenile delinquency2. The situation in European countries in this regard, however not so alarming as in the United States where the problem has touched its climax in recent years. Ms. Sophia M. Robinson in her learned article entitled “Why Juvenile Delinquency Programs are Infective” has aptly pinpointed the causes of the failure of preventive efforts in suppressing delinquency in the United States. According to the UN General Assembly, there are some basic principles:
• Juveniles who are in trouble with the law should be provided with carefully constructed legal protection.
• Pre-trial detention should be used only as a last resort. Child and the juvenile offender should not be held in a jail where they are vulnerable to the evil influences of the audit offenders.
• Member nations should strive individually and collectively to provide adequate means by which every young person can look forward to a life that is meaningful and valuable.
• Juvenile offenders should not be incarcerated unless there is no other appropriate response that will protect public safety and provide the juvenile with the opportunity to exercise self-control.
• Juvenile delinquency has become one of the most global phenomena in modern times. Despite intensive rehabilitative measures and special procedures for getting to grips with the problem of juvenile delinquency, there is a growing tendency among youngsters to be arrogant, violent and disobedient to law with the result there has been a considerable rise in the prevalence of juvenile delinquency. The main causes of the unprecedented increase in juvenile delinquency are as follows: -
• Migration of deserted and destitute boys to slum brings them in contract with anti-social
• elements carrying on prostitution, smuggling of liquor or narcotic drugs and bootleggers.
• Disintegration of the family system and laxity in parental control over children is yet another potential cause of the increase in juvenile delinquency.
• Unprecedented increase in divorce causes and matrimonial dispute yet another cause for disrupting family solidarity. Discriminatory or step-motherly treatment with children also has an unpropitious psychological effect on youngsters.
• The industrial development and economic growth in India has resulted in urbanization which in turn has given rise to the new problem such as housing, slum dwelling, overcrowding, lack of parental control and family disintegration and so on.
• Poverty is yet another potential cause of juvenile delinquency. Failure of parents to provide stipulation of life such as food, clothing etc. draws their children to delinquency in pursuit of earning money by whatever means.
• Besides the aforesaid causes, poverty illiteracy, child labour, squalor etc. are also some of the contributing factors exasperation juvenile delinquency.
Claims of Juvenility
The very first brief which the Juvenile Justice Board is required to decide relates to the age of the child brought before it for proceedings. The juvenile justice Act, 2015 provides that the date of commission of the offence is the gauge for determination of juvenility. The claim of juvenility can be raised before any court and at any age, even after the disposal of the case by the Juvenile Justice Board. Section 95 of the Juvenile Justice Act,2015 prescribes the procedure to be adopted by the Board for determination of juvenility and an order to this effect shall have to be passed within 30 days of the case being referred to the Board3. There is a belt of cases of this vital issue regarding the date which should be taken into consideration for deciding juvenility of the juvenile in conflict with the law. In the case of Kulai Ibrahim alias Ibrahim vs State Represented by I.G. Police Coimbatore , the Apex Court found that solicitation of juvenility was not raised by the appellant in the trial court. The High Court stated that no application was filed before it seeking to establish evidence to establish that the appellant was juvenile when the offence was committed. In another case of Prabhunath Prasad vs State of Bihar  Recapitulate that in case of the trail of a juvenile accused, the trial should Suo motu hold an inquiry as to the exact age of the accused to the extract age of the accused to eradicate any kind of dispute or doubt as to the eligibility of the accused of being tried under the Juvenile Justice Board.
Appraisal of the Juvenile Justice System in India
It must be stated that the treatment offered to juvenile offenders under the Indian law is incited by humanitarian considerations but the fact remains that the very concept of juvenile delinquency goes against the spirit of the law relating to liberty6, which provides that no one can be proceeded against unless he is a levy for some specific offence. Other points which deserve considerations in the milieu of juvenile’s trial are-
• Assigning the function of apprehending juvenile offenders to the police agency due to lack of alternative effective machinery goes against the basic principle on which the corrective system is founded.
• The effectiveness of juvenile trial, by and large, depends upon the efficiency of probation officers.
• Extracting confession from young offenders is contrary to the principles of justice and criminal law of the land7, and the proceeding in a juvenile justice board presents a very dismissive picture. Juvenile justice act,2015 prohibits adverse publicity of the juvenile which may lead to his identity during proceeding against him. In the case of Kamlendra Singh vs State of Madhya Pradesh  where the accused was convicted for an offence under section 307 of IPC and sentenced to 1-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 500 was pleaded juvenility for the 1st time in appeal before the apex court. The court accepted the plea after its verification by the state government and directed his case to be referred to the Juvenile Justice Board.
The exploitation of children is one of the many turpitudes present in our society. But it has been seen that the problems are gigantic and never-ending, thus resulting in a lack of everything that has been done till today. If these problems are not restraining soon then the growth of the children will impede giving a dark future to our country. The amendments that have been raised should be implemented in such a manner that the fecund result is achieved. Every society must, therefore, pledge full attention to ensure that children are properly cared for and brought up in a proper atmosphere, where they could receive adequate training, education and guidance. Such abuse has an abide and profound effect on a child's life. The problem of child abuse is serious because it forces the child to react or behave in such a way that is deleterious to both society and him. This inadvertent behaviour of the adolescent is due to the mental trauma that he goes through in the early stages of his life.
1. AIR 2014 SC 1649
2. Quoted by David Dressler in readings in Criminology p.681
3. Indian kanoon
4 AIR 2014 SC 2726 (Para 12)
5 AIR 1988 SC 236
6. Article 21 of the Constitution of India
7. Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872
8. AIR 2013 SC 1783
· The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,2015
· Prof. N.V Paranjape “Criminology and Penology” 19th edition
· Ahmad Siddique “Criminology, Penology and Victimology” 7th Edition