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Bonafide Plea of Juvenility

  • 17 Feb 2022
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: Constitutional and Legal Provisions related to Children, United Nation Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, 2005.

For Mains: Evolution of Juvenile Justice System, Objective of the Juvenile Justice System, Issues related to children.

Why in News?

Recently, the Supreme Court, while dismissing an appeal challenging the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, held that a plea of juvenility has to be raised in a bonafide and truthful manner.

  • The Court said that if a document of dubious nature is relied on to seek juvenility, the accused cannot be treated to be juvenile keeping in view that the law is a beneficial legislation.
  • Juvenile offenders (age below 18 years) are given protection under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (JJ Act).
  • Under Section 7 A of the JJ Act, an accused person can raise the ‘claim of juvenility’ before “any court, at any stage, even after the final disposal of the case”.

How the Juvenile Justice System Evolved in India?

  • Definition of Juvenile Justice System: The juvenile justice system concerns children who have conflicted with the law and need care and protection.
    • In India, a person below the age of 18 years is considered a juvenile.
    • Minor is a person who has not attained the age of full legal responsibility and the juvenile is a minor who has committed some offence or needs care and protection.
    • In India, any child below the age of 7 years can not be convicted of any crime because of the doctrine of Doli incapax which means incapable of forming intent to commit a crime.
  • Main Objective of the Juvenile Justice System: To rehabilitate young offenders and give them a second chance.
    • The main reason for this protection is that children's brains are not fully developed and they do not have a complete sense of wrong and right.
    • When parents have poor parenting skills, abusive home, violence in the home, a single parent who left their children for a long time unsupervised.
    • The influence of news, movies, web series, social media, and lack of education are also reasons why children indulge in criminal activities.
  • After the independence of India, the constitution provided some provisions under the fundamental rights and Directive principles of state policy to protect and develop children.
  • Children Act, 1960: This act prohibited the imprisonment of children in any circumstances and provided care, welfare, training, education, maintenance, protection, and rehabilitation.
  • Juvenile Justice Act, 1986: The Juvenile justice act 1986 came into force to provide uniformity of the Children Act and set the standard for protection of juveniles as per the 1959 United Nations declaration of the child.
    • In 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
  • Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000: The Government of India repealed the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) and came up with a new Act, the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000.
    • It had much better terminology such as ‘conflict with the law’ and ‘need care and protection’.
    • Juveniles who have a conflict with law are handled by the juvenile justice board and juveniles who need care and protection are handled by the child welfare committee.
    • In 2006 Amendment was made in the Juvenile Act to make clear that juvenility is considered from the date when a crime is committed.
  • Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2015: It replaced the Juvenile Act 2000.
    • This act was passed by the parliament after much controversy and protest. It has introduced many changes in existing law.
    • This act allows juveniles involved in the heinous crimes age group between 16-18 are treated as adults.
    • Making the juvenile justice system more responsive and according to the changing circumstances of society.
    • The Act gives a clear definition of orphaned, abandoned, surrendered children and provides an organized system for them.
  • Juvenile Justice (care and Protection) Amendment Act 2021: Recently, Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice (care and Protection) Amendment Act 2021.
    • The amendment provides strength to the provision of protection and adoption of children.
    • There are many adoption cases pending before the court and to make proceedings of the court faster now the power is transferred to the district magistrate.
    • Amendment provides that the district magistrate has the authority to issue such adoption orders.

What are Other Legal Frameworks for Welfare of the children?

Source: IE

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