Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
|The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000|
|An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, by providing for proper care, protection and treatment by catering to their development needs, and by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interest of children and for their ultimate rehabilitation through various institutions established under this enactment.|
|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|
|Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015|
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 This law, brought in compliance of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), repealed the earlier Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 after India signed and ratified the UNCRC in 1992. This act has been further amended in 2006 and 2010. In the wake of Delhi gang rape (16 Dec, 2012), the law suffered a nationwide criticism owing to its helplessness against crimes where juveniles get involved in heinous crimes like rape and murder. In 2015, responding to the public sentiment, both the houses of parliament in India further amended the bill that lowered the juvenile age to 16 and proposed adult-like treatment for juveniles accused of heinous crimes. The lower house, i.e. Lok Sabha passed the bill on May 7, 2015 and the upper house,i.e. Rajya Sabha on December 22, 2015. The bill was approved by President Pranab Mukherjee's assent on 31st December, 2015.
The Act is considered to be extremely progressive legislation and the Model Rules 2007 have further added to the effectiveness of this welfare legislation. However, the implementation is a very serious concern even in 2013 and the 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 the Supreme Court, the Bombay and Allahabad High Courts are also monitoring implementation of the Act in judicial proceedings. In order to upgrade the Juvenile Justice Administration System, the Government of India launched the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in 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 the Supreme Court on implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1997 which is applicable in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Based on a resolution passed in 2006 and reiterated in 2009 in the Conference of Chief Justices of India, several High Courts have constituted "Juvenile Justice Committees" headed by sitting judges of High Courts. These committees supervise and monitor implementation of the Act in their jurisdiction.
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. The State of Jammu and Kashmir has repealed its existing juvenile law of 1997 and has enacted the 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.
The Supreme Court of India vide Judgement in Hari Ram Versus State of Rajasthan confirmed the retrospective effect of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 in 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, the Act was further amended in 2011 whereby certain provisions which were discriminatory to the persons affected by leprosy have been deleted.
A revamped Juvenile Justice Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015 in the aftermath of the Delhi Rape Case of December, 2012 in which a minor was found guilty. The new bill will allow minors in the age group of 16-18 to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes. The crime will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to ascertain if the crime was committed as a 'child' or an 'adult'. 
The Ministry of Women and Child Development started contemplating bringing several desired amendments in 2011 and a process of consultation with various stake holders was initiated. A draft Bill in this regard was prepared and was pending before the Ministry of Law and Justice for scrutiny and put up on the official website of Ministry of Women & Child Development in June 2014 for public inputs. The Delhi gang rape case in December 2012 had tremendous impact on public perception of the Act. One of the convicts was found to be juvenile and sentenced to 3 years in a reform home. Eight writ petitions alleging the Act and its several provisions to be unconstitutional were heard by the Supreme Court of India in the second week of July 2013 and were dismissed, holding the Act to be constitutional. Demands for a reduction of the age of juveniles from 18 to 16 years were also turned down by the Supreme Court, when the Union of India stated that there is no proposal to reduce the age of a juvenile.
In July 2014, Indian Express reported that Pakistan-based terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Toiba had asked its members to declare their age to be below 18 years. This would ensure that they are tried under the Juvenile Justice Act instead of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The maximum punishment under the Act is three years.
- "Juvenile Justice Bill approved in Lok Sabha". Zee News. May 7, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- http://web.archive.org/web/20150510002744/http://ibnlive.in.com:80/news/lok-sabha-passes-juvenile-justice-act-will-allow-trial-of-minors-accused-of-heinous-crimes-as-adults/544250-37-64.html. Archived from the original on May 10, 2015. Retrieved May 7, 2015. Missing or empty
- TNN (31 August 2013). "Nirbhaya gang-rape case: Juvenile found guilty of rape and murder". The Times of India. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Claim to be juvenile to escape law: LeT tells its cadre". Retrieved 16 July 2014.