JUVENILE JUSTICE IN INDIA
Author: Rishabh Kumar Jain, pursuing B.B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Christ University
Abstract To contain the problem of juvenile delinquency in India, the Act pertaining to Juvenile Delinquency has been amended and now trial of juveniles involved in heinous crimes is held as adults There is a trend of increase in juvenile crimes world-over, with more and more involvement of the youth in violent crimes. Indian legal system and judiciary has responded to these trends and has brought some amendments in the laws pertaining to juvenile justice in India.
Introduction However, for some types of crime, there are older peak ages, and they decline relatively more gradually. Juvenile crimes have become such common phenomena that they raise serious concern in any nation. Under the Indian Laws, Section 2 (k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (referred generally as JJ Act) juvenile is a person who is below 16 years. Prior to JJ Act of 2015, the age bar for juveniles was 18 years (Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, 2006, 2012). The general observation is that criminality/ delinquency peaks in adolescence and diminishes with age, This pattern of crime common across historical, geographical and cultural contexts. There occurs to be a very strong relationship of crime/deviance with age- according to Hirschi and Gottfredson (1983), the age- crime relationship is universal. A juvenile delinquent may be regarded as a child who has allegedly committed/violated some law, under which his/her act of commission or omission becomes an offense. In common terminology, juvenile is a child who has not attained a certain age at which he can think rationally and often understand the consequences of his/ her act. These children across the world develop at different rates and develop different world- views. They also develop strong romantic/ sexual ideas, and tend to show indulgence in Love and long- term relationships. In fact, the age of the juvenile under the Indian legislations has taken variation in temporal and spatial perspectives. They develop the ability to indulge in long-term – planning and goal setting. Problems arise when these juveniles develop delinquent tendencies, and get into law and order problems.
Research Issues Covered To understand the latest trends in juvenile delinquency, statistical data from National Crime Records Bureau (official site for data on crimes in India) has been taken and analyzed. Empirical study of juvenile delinquency through visits to Juvenile Homes and Juvenile Boards (Courts) is proposed by the author in the coming years to get a deeper insight into the problem. It aims to delve into some of the causes/reasons for juvenile delinquency and the theoretical prepositions given by different scholars to understand the problem. Further, this data has been linked with the latest amendments made in the Juvenile Justice Act.
Reasons for Juvenile Crimes Social Factors Sometimes, the juveniles develop delinquent sub- culture due to cultural deprivation and status frustration that they go through (Albert Cohen, 1955). Delinquent sub- culture theory has been applied in latest studies in the United States (Ling Ren, Hangowel Zhang et al, 2016), where new area of attitude of the juvenile towards the Police in China has been focused. According to Walter B. Miller (1958), some youth (usually belonging to lower class) turn the mainstream culture up- side down, thus whatever is valued and is regarded as positive generally by the is society given up by these youth, and is replaced by just the opposite value system.
Psychological Factors There are psychological explanations to delinquency also, which can be well understood through Freudian concepts of id, ego and superego. The study indicates that when the neighborhood ties are weak and the social organization factors are not effective, the social control over the members of the society becomes weak, thus leading to delinquent tendencies. Interdisciplinary studies on juvenile delinquency reveal that across the world, many behavioral changes occur in the juveniles/ adolescents, which are related to the sudden changes in their body due hormonal surge, associated with puberty. Sometimes when the self- control and social control through primary groups becomes weak, the juveniles develop delinquent tendencies. Other studies indicate that social factors such as poverty and low education are also responsible for juvenile delinquency (Ombato, John Onyango et al 2013). When the id (the instinctive element of an individual's personality) becomes too strong, and the super- ego becomes weak (the socially taught element of personality) the ego develops into an anti- social person (K. S. Williams 2012). Amongst these neighborhood ties and social organization can be important determinants in the delinquent behavior of the juvenile. The report indicates that the juvenile who receive less familial supervision, or who live in dysfunctional family settings or in disadvantaged families have more chances of getting involved in delinquent behavior. Cloward and Ohlin (1960) feel that juveniles develop different delinquent tendencies depending upon what opportunities are available in their surroundings. The changes are most apparent in physical parameters, such as change in height and weight of the adolescents, and are soon followed by other sexual and physical changes of maturity. David Brandt (2006) has extensively talked about the social and psychological factors responsible for delinquency in India. Study of female inmates in Bangladesh showed a very high incidence of psychiatric disorder among the offenders of Female Juvenile Center (Maruf et al, 2015). Thus, if certain morals are upheld by society, juvenile delinquents give up these values and try to excel in the areas of toughness, over- smarting the others and indulge in things that give them excitement (defined as focal concerns by Miller). Along with the weak neighborhood, ineffective parenting and association of the youth with deviant peers leads to higher rates of offending.
Relevance of Socio- Psychological Studies Consisting of 54 articles, it sets out children’s rights and sets out children’s rights and how governments should work together to protect these rights. The United Nations Convention on Rights of Child (CRC) was laid down in 1989, which became a landmark in the international Human Rights legislations. All these researches done in the area of juvenile delinquency under various academic disciplines created the need for a strong instrument at international level that could lay down guidelines for various countries to deal with the situation. The CRC is a legally binding agreement that sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, irrespective of their race, religion or abilities. This rights approach shielded in the CRC entailed changes in the area of social; justice, equity and empowerment of the young members of society. India ratified to the CRC in 1992 and since then it has been bringing out various legislation to cover the rights of children.
Evolution of Juvenile Justice Legislations in India Under the Apprentice Act (1850), it was held that destitute or petty offenders in the age group of 10 and 18 years should be dealt with separately- the convicted children were required to work as apprentices for businessmen. After India got independence, Juvenile Justice policy in India got structured around the mandates prescribed under various articles of Indian constitution (Article 15 (3), 21, 24, 39 (e) & (f), 45 & 47). The important law for neglected and delinquent children in India was passed Central Child’s Act (1960), which prohibited imprisonment of children under any circumstances. Prior to coming of British in India, the actions of children were governed under existing Hindu and Muslim laws, where the respective families of the person concerned were held responsible for monitoring the actions of their children. The Juvenile Justice Act, apart for providing for care, protection, rehabilitation and development needs also makes the juvenile adjudication and disposition system child – friendly. The children between 7 and 12 years of age were considered to have sufficient maturity to understand the nature of their actions under certain circumstances. The Act also made provisions for the infrastructure and machinery for care, protection and rehabilitation of children. Some specific laws were passed between 1850 and 1919, like the Apprentice Act (1850), the Code of Criminal Procedure (1861) and the Reformatory School Act (1876 and 1897). In 1986, the central government of India passed a central Act, called the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986. The Code of Criminal Procedure of 1861 allowed for separate trials of persons younger than age 15 and their treatment under the reformatories rather than prisons. However, certain provinces came up with their own legislations to deal with juvenile delinquency (like Bombay, Madras and Pondicherry). New Act dealing with Juvenile delinquency came in 2015, about which a discussion will be held later in this article. Such attempts marked the changing attitude and approach of state to juvenile delinquents, and the transition from penal to reformative philosophy. In this regard, the Reformatory School Act 1876 and 1897 came as a harbinger of such legislation. It declared children’s courts and the child welfare board to be two important bodies that would deal with such children. It created juvenile courts for the offenders and juvenile welfare boards for the non- offenders/ neglected children. It was a social legislation that aimed to provide care, protection, treatment and rehabilitation for delinquent and neglected children.
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