The parliament of India has passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 with various debate, protest and intense controversy of its provisions by the fraternity of Child Rights. It came into force from 15 January 2016. The Juvenile Act, 2015 replaced the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and allowed the juveniles in conflict with Law of the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous and dangerous Offences, to be considered as adults.
The Act introduces the concept of three categories of offences, i.e. Petty Offences, Heinous Offences and Serious Offenses. Petty offences mean the offences for which the maximum punishment is the imprisonment up to three years, under the Indian Penal Code or any other law being in force.
Serious offences mean the offences for which the punishment is imprisonment between three to seven year under the IPC or any other law for the time being in force. Heinous offences mean the offences for which the minimum punishment is imprisonment for seven years or more under the Indian Penal Code or any other law being in force.
The upcoming generations are the asset of our country, and it is our responsibility to ensure a safe environment for them to live. However, it has observed that the rate of juvenile crime in our country is increasing day by day. We can say that Juvenile delinquency is a disease in our society.
The criminal justice system of India has a different approach for every crime, and it also includes exceptions that lead to the clemency of some criminal minds. The exceptions are mentioned in the Indian Penal code, where the courts are more lenient in giving punishment to the juveniles. Our justice system has developed the way that treats the minors in a different way than adults just because our society considers juveniles differently from adults, both in terms of the potential for rehabilitation and level of responsibility. Juveniles are sent to the rehabilitation centre to make their future better to give special care and protection to them, and it is expected that they will turn back as a reformed person.
Juvenile crimes cannot be stopped only by implementing and amending the juvenile laws. It is more critical to aware of our society about the same. It is seen that juveniles involved in crime are not criminals they are victims of society. Juvenile delinquency can be stopped, provided special care is taken at home.
Also, it is observed that severe crimes like rape and murder are gone unpunished when the offender wears the mask of juvenility.
When the juvenile is alleged to conflict with the law and is apprehended by the police, the child will be placed under the charge of juvenile police or the child welfare police officer, who will produce them before the Juvenile Justice Board. The Juvenile Justice Board plays an important role here.
One of the reform includes the Observation Home for Juvenile Offenders. It is an institution, where the delinquent and neglected juveniles are kept until the pending decisions of the case. The observation home admits the children that are brought by the police or probation officers or their parents voluntarily.
The Observation Home has to be placed for changing attitudes and behaviour of the inmates. Juvenile offenders have the same inclination of constitutional rights as an adult, such as a trial conducted be fair and speedy.
The Juvenile is not punished usually, but it can in no circumstances take away the constitutional guarantees of liberty from him/her. The state must protect and rehabilitate the juvenile offenders, but the protection of the juvenile should not be the custody of the child.
Concerning the rehabilitation and reformation of Juvenile, we must build the efficient linkages between the states and districts and also among various government agencies in association with the groups protecting child rights and legal services for the welfare of children and their families. Alternatively, else, the juvenile justice system will become like the criminal justice system resulting in the hardening of children caught instead of reformation.