SHOULD JUVENILES BE TRIED AND TREATED AS ADULTS?
Author: Deivanayagi H, V year of B.B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Tamilnadu Dr Ambedkar Law University, Chennai
JUVENILES, the word itself meant that childish or immature person. It represents the young person who is not yet old enough to be considered as an adult. In India children of different ages are considered to be a juvenile delinquent. However, the question is whether the age factor alone determines the criminal requirements? Recent survey says that crimes where juveniles involved are dacoit, gang rape and murder etc. Experts suggest that our Indian law couldn’t able to cope with the current scenario.it should have some changes that the juveniles should be treated as an adult in severe crimes. This article will discuss in detail about the reasons behind that.
Juvenile delinquency is one of the most crucial and controversial issue that have to look upon. A recent development in the environment has changed the mind state of children of this age physically as well as mentally. They are having a quick learning capacity which may lead them to go to the next end. The development in the field of science can bring the whole world into our hands. Children under the age of 18 are easily exploited by them, which is one of the major causes to emerge him as a delinquent. Most of the teenagers are driven to some crimes due to the family background, mental conflicts, friend and companions etc.no one is a born criminal, some circumstances are shaped them to involve in these kinds of illegal activities. Nowadays, social media also played a vital role, which will ruin the brains of the youngsters.
As we discussed earlier, our Indian law having certain branches for juvenile crimes which are not that much effective for some exceptional juveniles who are all involved in certain heinous crimes. They should bring some changes on that. There are always certain pros and cons regarding this issue, should we try the juveniles as adults? At the outset it is believed that a child is a fragile, both physically and mentally. For such reasons they created separated category for them.in the case of Rooper v. Simmons[i] the court held that the reason behind the differentiation between the juveniles and adults were the level of maturity, surrounding influences and the high possibility to reform.
Subsequently, if juveniles are treated as adults, they will have their sentence along with the adults.in such cases; there is high possibility of choosing the adult offenders as their idols. They will be easily exploited and also chances are there for physical assault to take place[ii]. At the other hand, let us discuss the below cases. On December 16th, 2012, a girl was raped and killed on a moving bus by a group of 5 people including a 17-year-old minor in Delhi[iii]. On November 2013, a jeweler’s wife was killed by a group of five juveniles, who escaped from a juvenile home, and they were also eloped for taking 10 lakh cash and 50 kg of silver jewelry[iv]. On December 24, 2015, three juveniles were convicted for killing a police officer at the court complex, at karkardooma. These are all some of the cases which involved some exceptional juveniles which I mentioned earlier.
Further, people doing such illegal activities making use of these juvenile crimes as a defence. Instead of involving themselves in the crimes, they are using these people who have not attained majority[v]. The lesser punishment is one of the major cause for this. For example, section 302 of IPC prescribes the punishment for murder for an adult. It says any person who commits murder shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life and also be liable to fine. At the same time earlier when a juvenile commits a murder, they are free from the criminal liability under the section 82 and 83 of Indian penal code, as they are not capable of doing such crimes.
Subsequently, our parliament enacted a new statue exclusively for the children between the age of 16 to 18. It says that children between the age of 16 to 18 can be considered as an adult for heinous or terrible crimes. For them the punishment will be imprisonment of maximum three years under the juvenile justice (care and protection) Act, 2015.it is no way possible that children under the age of 18 can never be punished for a crime. Why does the age factor alone stands to classify them is a big question mark till date?
In the case of State of Maharashtra vs. Vijay Mohan Jadhav&Ors (2021)[vi], a primary accused of the horrible rape was sentenced with three years of imprisonment under the juvenile justice act where the others were punished with death sentence.subsequently; in any cases the word heinous should be highlighted. Section 2(33) of the juvenile justice act 2015 provides that offenses for which the punishment under the Indian penal code or any other legislations is seven years or more, then it will be considered as a heinous crime. However, the same was demonstrated by Bombay High Court in another case[vii].
Reasons why juveniles should be considered as an adult?
It will reduce the chance of repeating the crime for multiple time:
A recent survey says that in 2018 the number of crimes committed by a juvenile is 21, it became 28 in 2019 and 36 in 2020.it also says that in the survey 59 juveniles were committing the same offense in the previous year’s 36 crimes. The present law couldn't able to cope up with that to reduce such rates. By trying them as an adult we can prevent them from becoming a habitual offender.
It treats the juveniles who are almost adult as a part of adult system to ensure justice
The major reason behind this is to prevent the homicide offense. A recent study in U.S. provides that in 2016 among the homicide offenders 9% of offenders were juveniles. Within that 79% were the one who are between the ages of 16-18. By treating them as adults will teach the accountability for the crime.
Serious actions for severe heinous crimes that they deserve
The present law is so lenient for the juveniles which may lead them to do severe terrible offences. Some people using the juveniles as the key way to do certain offence. To prevent all these, there should be some changes which will teach them the seriousness of the offence. Any actions should take neither based on the age nor on the law.it should be based on the seriousness of the crime and the consequences and also the level of maturity[viii].
Bring justice to the victims
The action will correct the blind justice and bring justice to the victims. And it will also prevent the youth from losing their entire life. It’s quite sensible to filter out the juveniles based of level of maturity and consequences, the future of this will be bigger than what we expected[ix].
Therefore, based on the above discussion, we can make a conclusion that the answer to the question will be neither yes nor no.it should be completely based on the cases and the circumstances of that.it will vary for every case.my personal opinion is that the juvenile justice system should not consider every juvenile at the same level of maturity. It should not classify them only bases on their age alone.it should focus on the nature of crime instead of the offender. And also we can’t blindly believe that juveniles who are all about to become as adults should treat as adult.it will vary from juvenile to juvenile. In addition to their age, their level of maturity, personal life, education, physical capability also should be considered to determine any case. No one is a born criminal, circumstances may lead them to do. By making our justice system more effective today, will definitely bring a better tomorrow.
END NOTES [i]Roper v. Simmons, 543 US 551 (2005). [ii]DEBATE: Should courts treat juveniles like adults?, The New Times, April 22, 2016 at https://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/read/199167 [iii]2012 Delhi gang rape case: What happened on December 16, Hindustan times, March 20, 2020 at [iv]https://www.hindustantimes.com [v]Juveniles may be tried as adults for ‘heinous’ crimes, The Hindu, April 9, 2016 at https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/juveniles-may-be-tried-as-adults-for-heinous-crime/article8453562.ece [vi]State of Maharashtra vs. Vijay Mohan Jadhav&Ors (2021),Case no 2 of 2 [vii]https://blog.ipleaders.in › juvenile-crimes-india [viii]https://connectusfund.org › 22-should-juveniles-be-tried-as-adults [ix]https://greengarageblog.org › 7-top-pros-and-cons-of-juveniles- being- tried- as- adults REFERENCES 1.THE INDIAN PENAL CODE 1860 2.THE JUVENILE JUSTICE( CARE AND PROTECTION) ACT 2015