As per section 2(k) of the juvenile justice act, 2000, a juvenile means a person who hasn’t completed 19 years of age. This age was increased for boy child from 16 years as under the Juvenile Justice Act 1986 and a uniform age for both boys and girls was thus enforced. This change in increasing the age of boys and bringing it in par with that of girl juvenile was a result of a major campaign by people working in the field of children.
However, this change was majorly influenced so as to bring the juvenile legislation of the country in conformity with the CRC that was ratified by the Indian govt. in 1992.
The 2000 act has redefined the words ‘juvenile in conflict with law’. As per the new legislation, any juvenile who is alleged to have committed any offence is a juvenile in conflict with the law. The reason why this was an important clarification was because now the juvenility of a person was to be seen with respect to the date when the offence was committed rather than when the FIR was filed or the case was taken into cognizance.
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JUVENILE JUSTICE BOARD
The main interest of the Juvenile jurisprudence is the WELFARE of the juvenile rather than concentrating on the act that brought him/her before the court.
The juvenile justice board deals with the criminal charges on a juvenile. This is a deviating factor in comparison of an ordinary criminal case in which the regular criminal courts take cognizance. Sec. 27, Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the Jurisdiction in the case of a Juvenile.
Composition of a JJB:
In a juvenile board, there are 3 members, namely, a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or a Metropolitan Magistrate along with two social workers. A minimum of one out of these two social workers should be a woman. These three function as a Bench. However, their roles are distinct to each other’s. It is the Magistrate who decides whether an offence has been committed by the juvenile or not. It is after this determination by the Magistrate comes in the function of the social workers. They need to look into the aspects that are necessary for the rehabilitation of the juvenile in a comprehensive way and keeping in the mind the social and other circumstances under which he/she committed the offence. In short, the Magistrate looks at the aspect of the deed of the juvenile while the social workers concentrate on the needs of the juvenile.
Powers of a JJB:
Section 4(2) of the Juvenile Justice Act bestows the same power as upon a Magistrate under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The Magistrate in the JJB is designated as the Principal Magistrate. In cases of a difference of opinion in between the members of the board, the decision has to be reached by the way of majority. However, in cases where such a situation arises when a majority cannot be reached at, the view of the Magistrate shall be final and binding.
As per The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2006, every district was supposed to have a JJB by August 2007. These JJBs are to have a fixed place of functioning.
Duty of a JJB:
Speedy Justice: section 14(1), Juvenile Justice Act 2000 provides that an inquiry of an offence has to be completed within a period of 4 months from the date it has commenced. In case of special circumstances, the JJB should give a reasoned order for the purpose of extending the period of completion of the enquiry.
Production before the board:
Police or special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU): the juvenile is usually produced before the JJB by the police or the SJPU and such a person producing the juvenile must inform, about such production, to the relevant police station/unit. Such a person producing a juvenile has to submit a report before the board mentioning all the necessary details of the case.
24 hours: within 24 hours of arrest, a juvenile is supposed to be produced before the board.
Single member production: in cases when the JJB is not functioning due to a holiday or other reasons, the juvenile may be produced before a single member of the board. However, a ratification of the order passed by the single member has to be done by the other members on the next working day of the JJB.
Help of voluntary organizations: for making such a report as mentioned in the 1st point, the help of any organization which has the requisite skills in such an area may be taken. The report contains the name of the juvenile, age, his/her social background, address, etc.
Lodging of the juvenile: during the pendency of inquiry, the Juvenile should be lodged in the observation home.
Bail: A juvenile, unless special circumstances occur, must be released on bail. However, if such a release is not made, the hearings should be kept at short intervals and the dates between them shouldn’t exceed 15 days.
Custody of the Juvenile: in cases where the Juvenile is lodged in the observation home, the police or the SJPU should not be given his/her custody unless a prior permission has been taken by the JJB.
Constitutional and other safeguards to a juvenile:
• Presumption of innocence.
• Right to counsel
• Right to remain silent
• Right to be notified of charges
• Right or presence of a guardian
• Right to confront the witness and cross examine them
• Right to appeal
CHILD CARE CENTER
The 2000 act, in its preamble, stated that the purpose of the juvenile system is the ultimate rehabilitation of the juveniles through the various institutions that were established under the enactment. The 2006 act kept the main objective as rehabilitation but the procedure was not limited via intuitions alone as these institutions hardly provide favorable conditions for the process of rehabilitation.
The purpose of a special home, as per section 9 is the reception & rehabilitation of the juvenile who is in conflict with law. When, on completion of an inquiry, the JJB feels the need to institutionalize the Juvenile, he/she is sent to such a special home. The maximum period a child can be sent to these special homes is 3 years.
The observation homes are for the purpose of temporary reception of the juveniles who are in conflict with law at the time when their inquiry is pending before the JJB. The law mandates that ever district shall have an observation home. It has been noted that setting up of such observation home is a responsibility of the state and thus institution of such homes by voluntary organizations shouldn’t be advocated.
Observation: the Cuttack district has its observation home at xxx address. The juvenile Justice group visited the Home on xxx date.
Segregation of juveniles: juveniles are to be segregated in
After care organization:
The purpose of after care organization is the care, protection and guidance of the child who is in need of care and protection or a juvenile who is in conflict with law. Its purpose is the rehabilitation of the child. The stay in an after care organization should not be extended beyond 3 years.
Inspection of the institutions formed under the JJ system:
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