Sneha Sharma talks about the need for reformation in the Juvenile Justice Sytem in India.
One of the weighty issues of the nation is the juvenile delinquency which includes number of youth committing crime because with the increase in the technology of world, there is an increase in the knowledge gained by a child before required age. Therefore there is an increase in the crime rate by juvenile.Focusing on all the issues and the form of crimes, the developed nations (UK and USA) are implementing strict rules for juvenile rather than creating a rehabilitation for them and at the same time India that is still developing which focuses on the age factor only, leaving back the other main phenomenon of the crime (intention, gravity of crime, degree of cruelty etc. Age being a most controversial issue in a juvenile justice and tricky as well. Every country have their own way of interpretation in term of skill and the age which is fixed for crime are different. In term of India’s juvenile legislation person below the age of 18 years are given the title of juvenile. Children whose age is below seven year are given immunity. While children whose age is between 7 to 12 years who are mature enough to acknowledge the repercussion also children between the age group of 12 to 18 years both can be tried in the Juvenile Justice Act. The main object of giving immunity to children below 7 years of age is to reform and rehabilitate them rather than treating them as an adult for the unwanted criminal behavior they have performed. The issue of determining age is said to be controversial as there’s no ray of clarity on this point. Presently, age factor is on top at India, if the child is below 18 years, no matter for what he is guilty he is send to reformatory house or at rehabilitation centre. The category is divided into two parts:-
- Child which is in need of protection and care.
- Juvenile which are in conflict with the law.
For the former comprehensive Children’s Homes and for the later special and observations homes are made.
Determination of Age
The power to determine the age of the person brought to know whether it’s a juvenile or not is given under section 49(1) of Juvenile Justice Act 2000. Basically there are two ways:-
- Medical evidence
- Documentary evidence
In a case it’s clearly stated that in absence of documentary evidence, medical examination can be done, but it’s not a conclusive proof as its only a opinion with the doctor which is not accurate and has a margin of 2 years of both side. Further in another case, it is held that between documentary and medical examination, more importance would be given to documentary proof and court will consider the same.
Which Age Is To Be Taken Into Consideration By Court?
In a case a question was raised, which age will be considered?…..which was further cleared in Arnit Das vs. State of Bihar that the date on which the accused will be present before the court will be considered which was again further overruled by Pratab Singh vs. State of Jharkhand that the day on which the offence was done, that age will be taken into account.
So there is been debate arising out Juvenile Justice System about whether they should consider the punishment system or rehabilitation system. If asked from us we would suggest that all states shall concentrate in solidifying up the system and shall focus more on giving punishment and imposing penalties as deterrence preferably than rehabilitation. And Why we feel this that the system shall emphasis on punishment? … Since if any juvenile or a child prefer to act in a dreadful way and tries to take “compos mentes” decisions similar as an adult, then such juveniles shall be treated and tried similarly as an adult.So far, most of the people considering juveniles as a young person puts lighter sentence or acts very leniently towards them since for whatever reasons. But then we feel, till they are not given harsh punishments they won’t learn anything from this mistake. We don’t say, they should be given grievous punishment all the time but then under certain context they shall be treated similarly as adult.
Ofcourse there can be many arguments that can be raised against considering punishment and penalties as the foremost focus. People against it may feel that it’s not a successful criteria as it can encourage more committing of crime as treating the juvenile as an adult seems to them demeaning and being very harsh. But then if our Juvenile Justice System goes as today, it would show the same justice pattern as in the Nirbhaya case. How can anyone forget the case of Nirbhaya. The minor who committed this crime was few months younger from being 18 years.
The question arises does he really didn’t know the nature or character of the crime he was doing and was he really innocent. The answer is yes he knew all of this and from nowhere he was innocent. One who can severally abuse a woman and that too twice and who can rip out the intestine with his hand can only be ruthless, monstrous and vicious attacker. There are many case like this, but then the worst thing is these juveniles being involved in heinous crimes( theft, murder, robbery, rape etc) take the immunity of the act.
This is because India focuses more on the age factor. The best option is that the system shall be like a blended option, with a shifting of jurisdiction directly to the adult court as doing such crime will hold the offenders accountable for the crime they have done.
Not relying completely on the grievous punishment, the certain circumstances shall be considered and then harsh punishment should be given and such situations shall also be considered by the juvenile judge before the juvenile is tried in any adult court.
- Maturity degree of the juvenile.
- The seriousness of the crime or offence he has committed.
- Any previous record of the crime (if any).
- Probability that whether the juvenile will be rehabilitated.
The judges of the juvenile court shall scan the juvenile psychology and then after knowing all his intention, nature of crime he shall be judged and penalized. Overall seen, if any juvenile commits any crime by taking law in his hand then ultimately such juvenile should not be given any type of privileged or advantage from the law which was basically enacted or made for the benefit of juvenile because these person all not resolving the main purpose for which it was came or set up in the books of statute.
When United States and many other developed nations can reform their approach i.e changing it from liberalism to the hard, tough and strict practice after considering the nature of crime, mental level and atrocities then why can’t other countries can adopt as well. People will continue to take advantage of the Lacuna.
So its high time that now we shall focus on the mens rea, if the crime and the level of understanding of the child rather than still running behind the age. Otherwise, irreproachable, faultless person will continue to deteriorate for no reason.
“I believe in justice, and I believe in people being held responsible for their actions.”
 Taya mala vs. Home secretary
 Bhoop Ram vs. State of UP
 Smt. Kamlesh and another vs. State of UP