The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
|Juvenile Justice in India|
|Citation||Act No. 56 of 2000|
|Territorial extent||Whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir|
|Enacted by||Parliament of India|
|Date assented to||30 December 2000|
|Date commenced||1 April 2001|
|The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2006 and 2011|
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 is the primary legal framework for juvenile justice in India. The Act provides for a special approach towards the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency and provides a framework for the protection, treatment and rehabilitation of children in the purview of the juvenile justice system. This law, brought in compliance of Child Rights Convention 1989, repealed the earlier Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 after India signed and ratified Child Rights Convention 1989 in year 1992. This Act has been further amended in year 2006 and 2010. Government of India is once again contemplating bringing further amendments and a review committee has been constituted by Ministry of Women and Child Development which is reviewing the existing legislation. Recent 16 December 2012 Gang rape incident in Delhi has raised a popular demand for amending this law to allow harsher punishments to children involved in serious offences.
JJ Act is considered to be an extremely progressive legislation and Model Rules 2007 have further added to the effectiveness of this welfare legislation. However the implementation is a very serious concern even in year 2013 and Supreme Court of India is constantly looking into the implementation of this law in Sampurna Behrua Versus Union of India and Bachpan Bachao Andolan Versus Union of India. In addition to Supreme Court , various High Courts in India, specifically Bombay High Court and Allahabad High Courts are also monitoring implementation of JJ Act in judicial proceedings. In order to upgrade the Juvenile Justice Administration System, Government of India launched Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in year 2009-10 whereby financial allocations have been increased and various existing schemes have been merged under one scheme.
A separate petition titled Deepika Thusso Versus State of Jammu and Kashmir is also pending consideration before Supreme Court on implementation of Juvenile Justice Act, 1997 which is applicable in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
Based on a resolution passed in year 2006 and reiterated again in 2009 in the Conference of Chief Justices of India, several High Courts have constituted "Juvenile Justice Committees" which are monitoring committees headed by sitting Judges of High Courts. These Committees supervise and monitor implementation of Juvenile Justice Act in their Jurisdiction and have been very effective in improving state of implementation. Juvenile Justice Committee of Delhi High Court is considered a model in this regard.
History of Juvenile Justice Legislation in India
The first legislation on juvenile justice in India came in 1850 with the Apprentice Act which required that children between the ages of 10-18 convicted in courts to be provided vocational training as part of their rehabilitation process. This act was transplanted by the Reformatory Schools Act, 1897, the Indian Jail Committee and later the Children Act of 1960. The Juvenile Justice Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on 22 August 1986. This Act was further amended in 2006 and 2011 and is now known as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000. Recently State of Jammu and Kashmir has repealed its existing juvenile law of 1997 and has enacted Jammu & Kashmir ( Care and Protection of children) Act 2013. This legislation is very similar to India's national Juvenile law except that it does not contain any provision on adoption.
Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (56 of 2000) as amended by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2006 (33 of 2006)., states that: “Prohibition of publication of name, etc., of juvenile or child in need of care and protection involved in any proceeding under the Act-(1) No report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or visual media of any inquiry regarding a juvenile in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection under this Act shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child shall nor shall any picture of any such juvenile or child shall be published: Provided that for any reason to be recorded in writing, the authority holding the inquiry may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion such disclosure is in the interest of the juvenile or the child. (2) Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1), shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees”.
While provisions relating to the Juveniles in conflict with law are very important from jurisprudence point of view, this Act becomes very crucial for Children in Need of Care and Protection, as they are very large in number. Section 29 of the Act provides constituting five members District (Administrative unit in India) level quasi-judicial body "Child Welfare Committee". One of the members is designated as Chairperson. At least one of the members shall be woman. The Committee shall have the final authority to dispose of cases for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of the 'Children in Need of Care and Protection' as well as to provide for their basic needs and protection of human rights.
Hon'ble Supreme Court of India vide Judgement in Hari Ram Versus State of Rajasthan confirmed retrospective effect of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 in year 2009, which was earlier confirmed by some of the High Courts in India, particularly by Bombay High Court.
Pursuant to an order of Delhi High Court, Juvenile Justice Act was further amended in year 2011 whereby certain provisions which were discriminatory to the persons affected from leprosy have been deleted.
Ministry of Women and Child Development is contemplating bringing several amendments in year 2012. A draft Bill in this regard has been prepared and is pending before Ministry of Law and Justice for scrutiny. 2012 Delhi gang rape case had tremendous impact on public perception of Juvenile Justice Act. Media highlighted that the juvenile allegedly involved in this case was the "Most Brutal" of all accused persons and quoted police sources for this information however official sources deny such allegation. Eight Writ Petitions alleging Juvenile Justice Act and its several provisions to be unconstitutional were heard by the Supreme Court of India in second week of July 2013 and were dismissed, holding Juvenile Justice Act to be constitutional. Demand for reduction of age of juvenile from 18 years to 16 years were also turned down by the Supreme Court, when Union of India stated that there is no proposal to reduce the age of a juvenile.
Many experts and activists viewed Post December 2012 Delhi Gang Rape responses as creation of media sensationaliation of the issue, and cautioned against any regressive move to disturb the momentum of Juvenile Justice Legislation in the Country.
Prominent Child Rights Organisations in India
- Juvenile Justice National Desk
- Human Rights Law Network HRLN
- Butterflies: Programme for Working and Street Children
- Bachpan Bachao Andolan- Save the Childhood Movement
- Center for Child & Law, National Law School of India University
- Prayas : From Darkness to Light
- Salaam Baalak Trust
- Childline India Foundation
- World Vision India
- Children of Mother Earth- COME
- Udayan Care
- Childhood Enhancement Through Training and action (CHETNA)
- Child Rights Advocacy Foundation - CRAF Andhra Pradesh
- HAQ Centre for Child Rights