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Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015, passed by Rajya Sabha

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015, passed by Rajya Sabha

The Bill was passed to amend the existing law and allow juveniles in the age group of 16-18 to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes like murder and rape. It does not seek to automatically put every 16-year-old perpetrator into the adult system.

The Bill has been pending in the Upper House for the last seven months where it was sent for consideration after its passage from Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015, with over three dozen amendments in the original Bill.

However, the present Bill sharply veered away from the past “beneficial legislation” for juvenile offenders. In the past lawmakers have always leaned in favour of reformation and social re-integration of child offenders rather than populating Indian jails with them.

The present Act is founded on the recognition of the rights of the victims, as well as the rights of juveniles.

However, it does not accepted many of the recommendations of Verma Commmittee, constituted in 2012.

Present Bill has been criticised for the violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. India is a signatory to this Convention which mandates that all children under the age of 18 years be treated equal.

Time line for juvenile justice

  • Children Act of 1960, entirely focussed on the using justice and corrective machinery to reform and rehabilitate juvenile offenders rather than reducing it to a crime and punishment mechanism. The 1960 Act provides “for the care, protection, maintenance, welfare, training, education and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent children ….”
  • According to Juvenile Justice Act of 2000, its ultimate goal was their rehabilitation.
  • The present Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2015 shifted a bit from its basic objective towards rehabilitation with care and some conditions

Highlights of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2015

  • The bill allows for juveniles 16 years or older to be tried as adults for heinous offences like rape and murder. Heinous offences are those which are punishable with imprisonment of seven years or more
  • The bill mandates setting up Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both must have at least one woman member each
  • Once the bill becomes law, the decision to try a juvenile 16 years or older as an adult will be taken by the Juvenile Justice Board, which will have a judicial magistrate and two social workers as members. If the board decides against it, the juvenile will be sent for rehabilitation
  • The Child Welfare Committees will look at institutional care for children in their respective districts. Each committee will have a chairperson and four other members, all specialists in matters relating to children
  • The bill also deals with adoption of children and lays down the eligibility criteria for adoptive parents. A central adoptive resource agency will frame the rules for adoption, which will be implemented by state and district level agencies
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