Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
|Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015|
|An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection by catering to their basic needs through proper care, protection, development, treatment, social re-integration, by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposal of matters in the best interest of children and for their rehabilitation through processes provided, and institutions and bodies established, hereinunder and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.|
|Citation||No 2 of 2016|
|Territorial extent||Whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir|
|Enacted by||Parliament of India|
|Date enacted||7 May 2015 (Lok Sabha)
22 December 2015 (Rajya Sabha
|Date assented to||31 December 2015|
|Bill||The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015|
|Bill citation||Bill No 99-C of 2014|
|Bill published on||12 August 2014|
|Introduced by||Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Women and Child Development|
|Committee report||Standing Committee Report|
|Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000|
|Status: In force|
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 has been passed by Parliament of India amidst intense controversy, debate and protest on many of its provisions by Child Rights fraternity. It replaced the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and allows for juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults. The Act came into force from 15 January 2016.
To streamline adoption procedures for orphan, abandoned and surrendered children, the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively. A separate chapter on Adoption provides detailed provisions relating to adoption and punishments for non compliance. Processes have been streamlined with timelines for both in-country and inter-country adoption including declaring a child legally free for adoption.
As on 2018, Ministry of Women & Child Development of Government of India is working towards bringing an amendment, primarily to remove courts from adoption process and to handover it to Executive Magistrates/ District Magistrates, despite nationwide protest against such a move.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development began contemplating several desired amendments in 2011 and a process of consultation with various stake holders was initiated. The Delhi gang rape case in December 2012 had tremendous impact on public perception of the Act. One of the accused in the 2012 Delhi gang rape was a few months younger than 18 years of age. He was tried in a juvenile court. 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.
On 31 July 2013, Subramanian Swamy, a BJP politician filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India seeking that the boy be tried as an adult in a court. The Court asked the juvenile court to delay its verdict. After the Supreme Court allowed the juvenile court to give its verdict, the boy was sentenced to 3 years in a reform home on 31 August 2013. The victim's mother criticized the verdict and said that by not punishing the juvenile the court was encouraging other teenagers to commit similar crimes.
In July 2014, Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi said that they were preparing a new law which will allow 16-year-olds to be tried as adult. She said that 50% of juvenile crimes were committed by teens who thought that they get away with it. She added that changing the law, which will allow them to be tried for murder and rape as adults, would scare them. The bill was introduced in the Parliament by Maneka Gandhi on 12 August 2014. On 22 April 2015, the Cabinet cleared the final version after some changes.
A revamped Juvenile Justice Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on 7 May 2015. 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 bill will allow a Juvenile Justice Board, which would include psychologists and sociologists, to decide whether a juvenile criminal in the age group of 16–18 should be tried as an adult or not. The bill introduced concepts from the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption, 1993 which were missing in the previous act. The bill also seeks to make the adoption process of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children more streamlined.
The bill introduces foster care in India. Families will sign up for foster care and abandoned, orphaned children, or those in conflict with the law will be sent to them. Such families will be monitored and shall receive financial aid from the state. In adoption, disabled children and children who are physically and financially incapable will be given priority. Parents giving up their child for adoption will get 3 months to reconsider, compared to the earlier provision of 1 month.
A person giving alcohol or drugs to a child shall be punished with 7 years imprison and/or ₹100,000 fine. Corporal punishment will be punishable by ₹50,000 or 3 years of imprisonment. A person selling a child will be fined with ₹100,000 and imprisoned for 5 years.
One of the most criticized step in the new JJ Bill 2015 is introduction of "Judicial Waiver System" which allows treatment of juveniles, in certain conditions,in the adult criminal justice system and to punish them as adults. This is for the first time in India's history that such a provision has been prescribed. Given to the severe criticism, Bill was referred to a Standing Committee of Parliament which also rejected such provisions. Since recommendations of Parliament's Standing Committee are not binding, Government has moved ahead and introduced the Bill in Lok Sabha, where it stands passed.
Bill is also criticized for prescribing an opaque Age Determination System and its poor draft. There are numerous drafting errors which have been coming to notice after the Bill has been rolled out for implementation on 15th January 2016. Now Government to working on an amendment to sure such errors.
The bill now stands Passed in Rajya-Sabha on Tuesday 22 December 2015, after the Nirbhaya case accused juvenile was released.
There is a separate legal framework for children accused of committing crimes. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 applies whenever the person accused of committing a crime is a child. It also applies to vulnerable children who need the government to take care of them (even if it's for a short while). For such children who need help with getting a better and fulfilling life, the law provides for a number of mechanisms (including adoption, sponsorship and foster care).
Normally, if a person is accused or arrested or detained in India, the regular criminal procedure under the Code of Criminal Procedure Code 1973 applies. An accused person can be kept in custody for months. The code also explains how persons would face trial to decide guilt or innocence.
The JJ Act ensures that such harsh procedures do not apply to children. So, for Children in Conflict with Law, it has created an alternate, more lenient and child-friendly setup.
The setup is largely controlled by the Juvenile Justice Board, and ensures that children are not kept together in regular jails with regular offenders. It also ensures children are re-integrated into society after having completed the terms of their punishment.
What possible penalties and punishments can be given by the JJB?
There is no punishment as such in JJ Act. However, the JJ Act lists the following dispositional orders that can be passed by the JJBs:
- Giving the child a firm warning, letting the child go home while simultaneously counselling the parents;
- Ordering the child to attend group counselling sessions;
- Ordering the child to perform supervised community service;
- Ordering the parents or guardians to pay fine.
- Releasing the child on probation. The parents or guardians will have to execute a bond (up to 3 years) which may include surety and be responsible for the child’s behaviour. The responsibility can also be handed over to a ‘fit person’ or ‘fit facility’ which is a recognized person or government organization or NGO which is prepared to accept the child’s responsibility.
- Sending the child to a Special Home for up to three years.
If, the JJB thinks that keeping the child in the Special Home would be against her best interests, or other children in that home, then the child could be sent to a Place of Safety. Do not forget that the JJ Act follows a principle of institutionalisation as last resort, meaning that these penalties are supposed to be highly exceptional.
The JJB may also pass orders directing the child to attend school or vocational training, or preventing the child from going to a specified place.
During the debate in the Lok Sabha in May 2015, Shashi Tharoor, an INC Member the Parliament (MP), argued that the law was in contradiction with international standards and that most children who break the law come from poor and illiterate families. He said that they should be educated instead of being punished.
Child Rights Activists and Women Rights Activists have called the bill a regressive step and have criticized the Bill. Many experts and activists viewed post December 2012 Delhi Gang Rape responses as creation of media sensationalisation of the issue, and cautioned against any regressive move to disturb the momentum of Juvenile Justice Legislation in the Country. However some sections in the society felt that in view of terrorism and other serious offences, Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 needed to be amended to include punitive approaches in the existing Juvenile Justice Law, which so far is purely rehabilitative and reformative. Some argued that there is no need of tampering with Juvenile Justice Act for putting up effective deterrent against terrorism. Retired Judge of Delhi High Court, Justice RS Sodhi on 8 August 2015 told Hindustan Times, "We are a civilised nation and if we become barbaric by twisting our own laws, then the enemy will succeed in destroying our social structure. We should not allow that but we must condemn this move of sending children to fight their war"
- 2012 Delhi gang rape, a rape case where one of the convicts was a juvenile
- Odisha State Child Protection Society
- Bill Text as passed by Lok Sabha
- Standing Committee Report
- Bill text as introduced
- Simple Explainer on Juvenile Justice Act
- Got the Presidential assent on December 31, 2015. As notified at Learning the Law, Last accessed on July 27, 2016 10:01 AM
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