Juvenile Justice

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 is the primary legal framework for juvenile justice in India. The act provides for a special approach towards the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency and provides a framework for the protection, treatment and rehabilitation of children in the purview of the juvenile justice system. This law, brought in compliance of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), repealed the earlier Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 after India signed and ratified the UNCRC in 1992. This act has been further amended in 2006 and 2010.

 Who is a Juvenile?

Section 2 (k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,2000 defines "juvenile" or "Child" as a person who has not completed eighteenth year of age.

 Who is a Child in need of care and protection(CNCP)?

According to Section 2 (d) of Juvenile Justice Act, a child in needs of care and protection means:

  • Child who is found without any home or settled place or abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence.
  • Child who is found begging or who is either a street child or a working child.
  • Child who resides with a person, whether a guardian of the child or not, and such person has threatened to kill or injure the child or abused and there is a reasonable likelihood of the threat being carried out or has killed, abused or neglected some other child or children and there is a reasonable likelihood of the child in question being killed, abused or neglected by that person.
  • Child who is mentally or physically challenged or children suffering from terminal or incurable disease having no one to support or look after.
  • Child who has a parent or guardian, such parent or guardian is unfit or incapacitated to exercise control over the child.
  • Child who does not have parents and no one is willing to take care of or whose parents have abandoned him or who is missing or run away child and whose parents cannot be found after reasonable inquiry.
  • Child who is being grossly abused, tortured or exploited for the purpose of sexual abuse or illegal acts.
  • Child who is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking.
  • Child who is being or is likely to be abused for unconscionable gain.
  • Child who is a victim of any armed conflict civil commotion or natural calamity.

 

 Who is a Juvenile in conflict with law (JCL)?

Section 2 (l) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 has defined "juvenile in conflict with law" as a juvenile who is alleged to have committed an offence and has not completed eighteenth year of age as on the date of commission of such offence.

 Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) & Child Welfare Committee (CWC)

A child apprehended by the police directly or on complaint is brought to the legal system. The process of justice for children, facing adverse circumstances, commences with their production before the competent authority, that is, Child Welfare Committee (CWC) or Juvenile Justice Board (JJB). The competent authority is supposed to act 'on behalf' of children under difficult circumstances. It initiates action which is supposed to give a positive turn to the course such children find themselves set on. Here, the dominant ethical consideration needs to be as to what course of action would be in the larger and long-term interest of the children produced before the authorities.

 The role of Legal Services in Juvenile Justice

  • Under section 12(1)(c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, every child who has to file or defend a case is entitled to free and effective legal services.
  • Existence of a panel of lawyers to represent the juvenile
  • Existence of a Legal Services Clinic at the Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committees in each District with PLVs deputed therein.
  • Existence of Legal Literacy Club in each of the schools in the district.
  • Training and sensitization of the stakeholders including NGOs, Police, District Administration, judicial officers, panel lawyers, PLVs, etc.
  • Generating legal awareness amongst the masses including State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, NGOs, etc.
  • Implementation of the NALSA(Child Friendly Legal Services to Children and Their Protection) Scheme, 2015.
  • Monitoring the working of Observation and Special Homes, Children Homes of the District.

The Juvenile Justice Committee High Court, Calcutta supervises the functioning of the activities relating to the CNCP and the JCL. The Committee has the following members at present :

HON'BLE JUSTICE NADIRA PATHERYA, JUDGE, HIGH COURT, CALCUTTA CHAIRPERSON
HON'BLE JUSTICE HARISH TANDON, JUDGE, HIGH COURT, CALCUTTA MEMBER
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE SOUMEN SEN, JUDGE, HIGH COURT, CALCUTTA MEMBER