India has about 385 million children, i.e., 42% of its population, the highest in any country in the world, putting a huge burden on the state and nation to rear them as a responsible law that values people. They're leaders of a nation's future. The dawn of industrialization, urbanization, and mobilization, which resulted in cultural differences, has undermined the current protective system, rendering the youth more vulnerable to social maladjustment.
Adult crime is a precursor to juvenile delinquency. And every society should cultivate a proper education, training, and guidance, to have their contentment in society.
The Criminal Justice System seeks to shield children who have gone from youth to violence by imprisoning them within the institutional structure of the law to ensure their rehabilitation without having to mark them. Today the justice system views them as patients with a disability, and every crime committed is a plea for help in surviving: social justice, criminal justice, and the defence of society. The sentence behind degradation in jail stresses rational processes for recovery.
The concept of the phenomenon of juvenile justice, developed in the 19th century. No definition of children's rights had been adhered to earlier, and both the child and the adult were viewed at par. They have been tried in ordinary courts, sentenced to the same sentences (death penalty and life imprisonment), and completed their sentence in the same jails, along with hardened, regular criminals. This led to the cells being bred by young criminals. However, the children's sufferings drew the attention of the radical reformist in the middle of the 19th century to bring about a change. What a child needs are not so much a reformation as a formation. Therefore, the focus changed from shielding society from becoming a delinquent child, to protecting the child from a criminal culture. This led to the 1960 Children Act, which was later re-enacted as the 1986 Juvenile Justice Act. This statute was abrogated by the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Child Protection Act, 2000).
The phrase 'juvenile delinquency' is defined in legal dictionaries of the major political systems around the globe. It essentially envelops the idea about the deviant behavior and demeanor of individuals who have not yet attained physical and mental maturity.
In India, section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, defines the word juvenile. A "juvenile" or "child" means a person who has not reached the age of eighteen. The term 'Youth in Conflict of Law' as described in Section 2(1) of the said Act refers to a juvenile who is alleged to have committed an offense and who has not completed sixteen years of age as at the date on which such offence was committed (Section 2(L). The Indian position is very much in line with the Latin "nulla crimen sine lege" principle, which means that an act cannot be a crime unless it is so defined under existing law.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
The Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 provides for juvenile care, recovery, growth, and rehabilitation. The gradual breakdown of traditional means of social control, particularly in the family and community, the increasing rural-urban drift, rapid industrialization has created a strong tendency to increase the centralization of the state's authority to reform the youth's irregular behavior. Any form of juvenile misbehavior should not be identified as delinquency, since it may be an offshoot of the development process or a by-product of the circumstances that a juvenile himself does not have control over. It is the state's responsibility to rationalize policies governing the administration of juvenile justice based on progressive movements towards decriminalization, diversion, and deinstitutionalization to the extent possible to be in line with the country's socio-cultural conditions. The Act is composed of five chapters and seventy sections.
The aim of this Act is to reform and amend the legislation relating to juveniles in conflict with the law and children in need of care and security, by ensuring appropriate care, safety, and treatment by addressing their development needs, and by following a child-friendly approach in mediating and resolving matters in the best interests of children and their ultimate rehabilitation.
The main objectives of the Act are to:
(1) establish a uniform legal framework for juvenile justice to ensure that a child is not lodged in prison or police lock-up under any circumstances.
(2) Identify the machinery and infrastructure required for the care, protection, treatment, development, and rehabilitation of different categories of children in the context of the system of juvenile justice.
(3) Setting standards for the administration of justice as regards investigation and prosecution, adjudication and disposition, care, and protection.
(4) Develop adequate linkages and coordination between the formal system of juvenile justice and voluntary agencies concerned with the welfare of neglected and socially disadvantaged children;
(5) To include special offenses related to juveniles and punishment provision.
(6) Conforming the country's criminal justice system to the United Nations Universal Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice.
To ensure proper functioning, certain concrete steps should be initiated and must be taken by the Government and NGO's. Those are:
(1) The Act is undoubtedly very well-drafted, but its administration and enforcement are incorrect. There is an urgent need for dedicated, sincere, and determined personnel trained in the handling of juveniles.
(2) Effective cooperation should be formed between different State Administrators to add productivity and effectiveness to the functional machinery. The Government and private organizations must provide essential funds.
(3) Special care and attention must be given to preventing juvenile delinquency educators from interacting with children. We would have:
· create a new system of values in which school will be a force against prejudice and exclusion faced by low-class pupils;
· making the school a resource for promoting work behaviors, self-esteem, and career skills to boost the employability of underprivileged students include school experiences designed to enhance the self-image of children vulnerable to delinquency.
Symbiosis Law School, Pune