This article analyses the history and current condition of the Juvenile Justice System in India and its rehabilitation situation in India over the past years. The juvenile justice system is a system of laws, rules, and practices designed to control how nonadult offenders are dealt with when they violate the law and to offer them access to legal remedies that will safeguard their interests in case of dispute or neglect. As children are to be considered as the greatest assets of any society or nation that’s why the proper development of them into responsible citizens is essential. Due to various circumstances children, juvenile law is a legal system designed to defend the human rights of minors or underaged people who have been accused of crimes or who have been abandoned or mistreated by their parents or guardians. Section 82 and Section 83 of the IPC, confer immunity from criminal liability on child offenders. This immunity is based on the principle of juvenile justice.
The constitutional basis for juvenile justice can be derived from Articles 15(3) 39(e) and (f) of the Constitution of India. Article 15 (3) provides that “Nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any provision for women and children”. Clause (e) of Article 39 provides, among other things that the tender age of children is not abused. Clause (f) stipulates that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom and dignity and that the youth be protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment. After the completion of the sentence, the convict has to be prepared to get back into society. The general populace regards ex-convicts with suspicion. As a result, the process of rehabilitation comes into play, so, that they can be mentally prepared and may be taught skill sets to increase their employment ability. There are many steps to be taken by the judiciary to improve rehabilitation conditions in India.
After the Independence of India, the constitution provided to protect and develop children under fundamental rights and Directive principles of state policy. The Children Act of 1960 was enacted by the Indian Government. This act made it illegal to imprison children under any circumstances and provide for their care, welfare, training, education, maintenance, protection, and rehabilitation. However this act was only applicable in union territories and this act introduced three types of system in India which were observation homes during court proceedings of the juvenile court in India, a children's home for neglected children and a special school for delinquent children. The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 came into force in India to offer uniformity to the Children's Act and set the norms for juvenile protection as per the 1959 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 established a comprehensive legal framework for dealing with children in dispute with the law so few conflicts arose that the statute was revised in 2000 and again in 2006 to increase legal protection, care, and rehabilitation measures.
The Juvenile Justice Act of 2006 was replaced by the Juvenile Justice (Care &Protection of Children) Act, of 2015 because of the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape which is also known as the Nirbhaya case in which 5 people including one juvenile attacker were convicted, one of was juvenile offender so he was tried separately in a juvenile court and given the punishment of 3 years imprisonment in a reform facility so to the conclusion that the punishment he was given was not enough for his crime he performed so the government replaced the Juvenile Justice Act of 2006 with Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2015.
JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE & PROTECTION) ACT, 2015:-
A thorough understanding of the law governing to children’s criminal liability requires a thorough examination of the Juvenile Justice Act. It is a comprehensive law that not only deals with juveniles in conflict with the law, i.e., juveniles accused of committing an offence but also provides for the care, protection, treatment and rehabilitation of both “juveniles in conflict with the law” and “children in need of care and protection”. The definition of ‘juvenile’ or ‘child’ under this act is substantially broader than what is provided by sections 82 and 83 of the code and sections 2(12) and 2(35) of the acts. The statute defines child and juvenile as a child who has not reached the age of eighteen years. Though the act does not give absolute immunity from criminal culpability for juvenile offences, as in sections 82 and 83, the provisions are almost akin to it. The Act states that no child who has committed an offence may be sentenced to death or life imprisonment, or be committed to prison for failure to pay a fine or provide security. It also inter alia, stipulates that a child who has committed an offence shall be sent home after being advised or admonished; released on probation for good behaviour and placed in the care of parents or guardians; or sent away for a time not exceeding three years to a special home. The act also removes all disqualifications attached to the conviction of a juvenile in conflict of law.
The main motivation for enacting the new legislation was an increase in the number of crimes (including rapes) committed by adolescents (aged 16 to 18). The new law, which was more retributive than reformative, created various problems. The new rule is deemed retributive because it requires juveniles who commit a heinous crime (punishable by 7 years or more) to be tried as adults but in juvenile court. When a child is found guilty of the heinous crime is kept in a secure place until the age of 21, at which point he is transported to prison. It is ensured by the children’s court. This indicates that when a minor is found guilty of a horrific crime, the benefit of a child is not granted. Many people criticized the new law on minors for being unconstitutional. In the case of Pratap Singh v. The State of Jharkhand, the court emphasized that the rule 4 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, one had to accord full emphasis to the moral and physiological factors even when accountable for a crime. According to Professor Ved Kumari, if a 16-year-old commits a heinous crime punishable by 7 years in prison, he must be brought before the Juvenile Justice Council, which decides on the child's physical and mental capacity; whether the minor committed such offence and under the circumstance,s the offence was committed. The Juvenile Justice Commission’s work is tough and fraught with ambiguity. many activists have noted another issue, namely that the 2015 law violates the spirit of Article 20(1), which provides that a person cannot be condemned to a harsher punishment than would have been applied to him or her under domestic law.
Under the new law, if a sentenced minor reaches the age of 21 but has not completed his entire sentence, he is sent to prison if deemed suitable. The spirit of Article 20(1) is undermined by this new law. One of the silent features of this law is that it determines the age of the juvenile accused of the crime. It is divided into three parts which are; The Act done by the child under Seven years of age: section 82 of IPC presumes that the person who is under the age of seven years is a child who needs protection and care while being in conflict of law and it also states that he is Doli incapax, i.e., he is incapable of committing a crime and cannot be guilty of any offence. It presumes that he doesn’t have enough maturity to distinguish between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The next one is the Act of a child above seven but below 12 years of age: here section 83 presumes that a child of age above 7 and below 12 years is Doli capax which means that he is capable of committing a crime with the may or may not understanding of the consequences of the act that he did. Here the punishment and the judgement of the Criminal act that he is done is based on the maturity or mens rea of that child. Next is that when the person is beyond the age of 12; here in this case no immunity from criminal liability is granted even if the offender has an undeveloped understanding and is incapable of understanding the nature and consequences of the act he has done. The question of his youth and maturity of understanding will be relevant in the context of the sentence to be passed against him in the event of convection.
REHABILITATION FACILITIES UNDER THE JUVENILE JUSTICE ACT, 2015:-
Rule 3 of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 refers to the rehabilitation of the juvenile. The rehabilitation is necessary for the juvenile because after completing their sentence they have to rejoin society so they need to learn skills and have a strong mentality so they don’t lag in society. There are two types of rehabilitation: institutional care and non-institutional care.
Institutional care includes:-
▪ Observational homes: according to the Act state government established these houses in each district. A minor is temporarily received in these homes and for the duration of the investigation they are detained in observational houses. Medical and mental assistance were also provided during the minor’s stay, as well as basic equipment such as food, clothing and lodging. To keep the body and mind healthy they let them do some small chores such as watering the plants etc.
▪ Shelter homes; according to section 37 of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, shelter homes as for children in need of urgent support. Shelter homes provide children with space where they can play and engage in creative activities. This activity is designed to make sure there will be the overall growth and development of children as responsible adults in society.
Non-institutional care includes:-
▪ Foster care: It is one of the intuitional measures used for the temporary placement of children by section 42 of JJA,2015. Homeless, abandoned, neglected and deprived children benefit from the foster family. The child receives parental care and parenting instruction in the foster home. Being put in a foster home allows you to avoid the stigma of being in an institution while also adapting to other children.
▪ Sponsorship: the sponsorship program is another sort of non-institutional approach that gives additional aid to families, and children’s homes to address the medical, nutritional, educational, and other requirements of children. Sponsorship is provided to better their standard of living. Individual-to-individual sponsorship and group sponsorship are all examples of child sponsorship schemes.
LEADING CASE LAWS:-
1. Pratap Singh v. State of Jharkhand: The Hon’ble Supreme Court concluded in this judgement that the juvenility of a person in conflict with the law must be calculated from the date of the offence and not from the date on which the magistrate took cognizance.
2. Jitendra Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh: In this case, the Court determined the age of the juvenile accused based on medical evaluations performed by a duly constituted Medical Board. The Court also stressed the need to determine age must be made as soon as possible to guarantee that the accused is dealt with in conformity with the law applicable to minors.
3. Jarnail Singh v. State of Haryana: in this case, the court held the provision of the JJA 2015, included age-related provisions and this case also helped to shape the legal framework and the approach towards dealing with children in conflict with the law in India empathizing with the need for rehabilitation and reintegration measures rather than punishment.
The Provision is regressive since it favours retribution and inscription over reformation, rehabilitation, and integration of the Juvenile in society. According to NCPRC, our country has one of the most advanced Juvenile Systems in the world today, with a strong kid-centred focus & clear division of the adult and child jurisdiction. However, we still have a long way to in the juvenile system & implementation and realization of this system children ended up wondering what kind of people they were before they entered. JJ 2015 facilities skill development, rehabilitation & successful reintegration of youth into society. Without being exposed to this reality or the severity of adult jails, adolescents would learn from successful cases of youth. As youth were involved in criminal activity, they faced challenges that drove them to commit particular crimes. The juvenile justice system is crucial because giving young criminals a second opportunity and a life for a better future is essential. The major purpose of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate the country's young offenders.