Author:- Aayushi Kashyap, Senior Associate, All India Legal Forum
A youngster under the age of 18 is referred to as a juvenile. India is a country under development. These days, there are more juvenile offences. In order to offer care, protection, treatment, development, and rehabilitation to neglected or delinquent youngsters, Parliament created the Juvenile Justice Act in 1986. The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 in India was abolished and replaced with the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000. India’s main juvenile justice legislative framework is the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000.
The Latin term “Nil Novi Spectrum” would be the best way to sum up India’s juvenile justice system. It may be said that there is “nothing new on this earth,” and among Indians, particularly in northern India, there is a proverb that can be used to characterise the country’s present juvenile justice system: “It is rarely Too Late to mend.” Instead of utilising these terms, the expression “Mature adequate to try to the offence, sufficiently old to try to the time,” which is an English idea used by several states in the United States, is more appropriate for India’s juvenile justice system. Ever since the time of ancient India, there has been a school of thought that believes children should be preserved leniently.
In latest generations, the incidence among youngsters under the age of 16 has increased. The milieu in which the kid was raised, the state of the economy, the lack of access to education, and parental care may all be contributing factors to the rising rate. These are only a few of the most crucial ones. The most depressing element is that children, especially those between the ages of 5 and 7, are being exploited as tools for committing crimes since, at that age, their brains are still very naive and easily tricked.
The Nirbhaya Gang Rape Case repugnant incident, in which the suspect was only six months away from turning 18, the age of significance, led the Indian system to convict him as a juvenile rather than a fully-fledged perpetrator, sparked a substantial argument and discussion about the juvenile justice system. The “Child Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015” was passed by the Parliament in response to the engagement of any juvenile in such a horrific crime, but before getting into the specifics of that law as well as other juvenile justice policies in India.
INDIAN JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM’S ORIGINS
In many industrialised nations, like the United Kingdom and the United States of America, a grassroots campaign for the unique rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents has started in this era. The late 18th century saw the start of this trend. In the past, young criminals received the same treatment as adult offenders. On November 20, 1989, the United Nations General Assembly passed a Convention on the Rights of the Child for the same reason. The purpose of this treaty is to protect the interests of youth crime. According to the Convention, minors must not be subjected to legal processes or court trials to protect their ability to reintegrate into society. The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 must be repealed in accordance with the Convention, and draft regulations must be passed in its place. Consequently, a brand-new law known as “The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000” was added to Indian law.
JUVENILE JUSTICE ACT, 2000
With the intention of safeguarding children, the Act was passed in the year 2000. The cited was changed twice, once in 2006 and once more in 2011. To address the execution flaws and omissions, an update was created.
Legislators were forced to enact legislation due to the frightening “Delhi Gang Rape Case,” the rise in juvenile criminal cases in recent years, and other factors. The Act’s biggest flaw was its inadequate legal provisions, and India’s broken juvenile justice system was also a major problem for reducing juvenile crimes.
THE JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE AND PROTECTION) ACT, 2015
The Youth Justice Act of 2015 superseded the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 on the basis that a more effective and practical promotes stability that concentrated on barriers throughout the kind of reformative approaches was necessary. Juveniles shouldn’t be viewed as adults; in Parliament, there are discussions about providing young people greater freedom to change, rebuild, or reform, which is only feasible when there is a strong legal system in place. As a result, new measures, such the Youth Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, concentrated on an adolescent recognized technique of conciliation and dispute disposition.
THE DOCTRINE OF ‘DOLI INCAPAX’
According to the legislation, a young child below the age of 7 could be a “Doli Incapax.” This suggests that the child is unable to make a provision because they lack the necessary understanding of the nature and effects of their acts.
Doli Incapax, a Latin phrase that means “unable to hurt,” has been used in the judicial system to infer a child’s innocence. The foundation of the Doli Incapax doctrine is the idea of criminal responsibility, which holds that someone must be held legally accountable for the actions that were meant to be taken.
Doli Incapax is recognised in most nations. Sections 82 and 83 of the Indian law code cover this idea. The Code of Criminal Procedure accords youngsters below the age of seven absolute immunity for any crime committed because it acknowledges their inability to comprehend the nature and repercussions of their own conduct.
In Kaku v. State of Himachal Pradesh, the appellant, then 13 years old, was found guilty of raping a two-year-old child. As a result, the tribunals condemned him to four years of solitary confinement, which the court supported. The Court evaluated the circumstances of the case after the defendant filed a claim under Sections 82 and 83 of the IPC and decided that the penalty should be lowered to at least one year of rigorous imprisonment with a fine and six months of severe confinement for failing to pay the fine. Additionally, it was claimed that the detainee was protected from escaping from the adult inmates.
SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THE LEGAL CODE AND RELEVANT CASE LAWS
The IPC 1860’s Sections 82 and 83 deal with the exclusions of minors from punishment.
In the case Kaku v. Union of India, the Constitutional Court shortened the prison term of a 13-year-old boy who raped a 2-year-old girl. The court took into account Sections 83 and 84 of the IPC, which specify that adolescents cannot be regarded as grownups. As a result, it is established law that the court must take both reparative and compassionate stances while dealing with minors.
But in Heeralal v. State of Bihar, a child killed a person with a knife after threatening an adult with it. The court found him guilty, using the boy’s legal age as justification. The supreme court also dismissed the petition.
In Satya Deo v. State of Uttar Pradesh, it was decided that despite the fact that crime was committed before the Act of 2000 took effect, a child’s right to be considered as a minor at the time of the crime if he was younger than the age of 18 cannot be rejected. According to Section 25 of the 2015 Act, the 2000 Act would still be in effect for matters that were already in progress when the 2015 Act was passed.
The Juvenile Justice Act must be changed to decrease the age from 18 to 16 years old, and minors who commit terrible crimes like homicide and rape should be prosecuted as adults, according to the argument made in Salil Bali v. Union of India. The Juvenile Act is based on good foundations and is in compliance with the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court said in rejecting the case. The rights of children are recognised by a plethora of international agreements, including the Beijing Rules and the Riyadh Guidelines, which also permit juveniles to have their own criminal justice systems.
Without a question, youngsters are the future of the planet. To protect their entire future of civilization, further overhaul legislation is urgently required to stop such minors. It will help to improve the globe and perhaps lessen the possibility of criminal activity in the future. Especially juvenile delinquent behaviour by children can have a big influence on their destiny, thus it needs to be dealt with very now.
It is important to pay serious response to India’s growing adolescent recidivism rate. Even though the administration has passed several statutes and regulations to lessen the frequency of juvenile infractions, the outcomes are ineffectual, and the legislative objective is not being fulfilled. This is because present juvenile laws do not have a deterrent impact on adolescents.
Every individual has a responsibility to tackle the concern of youth crime, including society, parents, treatment centres, and so on. This real-world issue will be resolved quickly if all these elements come into play.