Juvenile law

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India is a signatory to UN Declaration on The Rights of the Child, 1959 which defined and recognized various Rights of the children namely: The right to health and care, the right to protection from abuse, the right to protection from exploitation, right to protection from neglect, right to information, right to expression and right to nutrition etc have been defined as basic rights of children by the Convention of the rights of the child. Accordingly, India has adopted a national policy on children in 1974 for achieving the above said rights for its children. The National Policy for Children has reaffirmed the Constitutional provisions for adequate service to children both before and after birth and through the period of growth to ensure their full physical, mental and social development. Through its National Policy for Children the government of India took the responsibility of children’s nurture and solicitude saying that equal opportunities for development to all children during the period of growth should be our aim, for this would serve our larger purpose of reducing inequality and ensuring social justice.

Juvenile law
AuthorMadhur Gupta
Published on21 May 2019
EditorFaiyaz Khalid
Last Updates18/02/2019


What is Juvenile Law? Juvenile law is the unique body of law that relates to minors. To put it another way, juvenile law is the law that applies specifically to juveniles. Although the juvenile criminal court is likely the most known example of juvenile law, there are many cases where the law treats a minor differently than an adult. While many constitutional rights are the same for both minors and adults like the right to the representation of an attorney in a criminal matter and the right to bring a lawsuit, there are some key differences. 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 This law, brought in compliance of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), repealed the earlier Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 after India signed and ratified the UNCRC in 1992.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.

The Act is considered to be extremely progressive legislation and the Model Rules 2007 have further added to the effectiveness of this welfare legislation. However, the implementation is a very serious concern even in 2013 and the Supreme Court of India is constantly looking into the implementation of this law in Sampurna Behrua V. Union of India and Bachpan Bachao Andolan V. Union of India. In addition to the Supreme Court, the Bombay and Allahabad High Courts are also monitoring implementation of the Act in judicial proceedings. In order to upgrade the Juvenile Justice Administration System, the Government of India launched the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in 2009-10 whereby financial allocations have been increased and various existing schemes have been merged under one scheme.


JUVENILES: WHO ARE THEY? A “Juvenile” or “Child” means a person who has not completed eighteen years of age.

According to International Law, a ‘Child’ means every human being below the age of 18 years. Today this is a universally accepted definition of a child which comes from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Under the Indian Laws,

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.

Definitions of Juvenile/Child under various national legislations:

Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Section 2 (ii), “Child” means a person who has not completed the age of 14 years.

Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929. Section 2 (a), “Child” means a person who, if a male, has not completed twenty one years of age, and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age.

Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. Section 2 (a), “Child” means a person who has not completed the age of sixteen years.

Children/Juveniles need care and protection?(CCNP)

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. Juvenile/Child in conflict with law?(JICL)

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.


As a number of studies have shown, juveniles commit a proportionately higher number of violent crimes than members of other age groups, and since the mid-1980's, juvenile offenders have become increasingly violent.These findings are supported by comparisons of arrest statistics for adult and juvenile offenders. The number of individuals of all ages arrested for murder and negligent manslaughter increased approximately 23 percent between 1985 and 1994, while the number of juveniles arrested for those crimes in the same period grew by 150 percent.

In 1991, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which seeks information on crimes committed against persons age 12 or older, found that victims attributed about one in four personal crimes (crimes of violence and theft, including larceny) to juvenile offenders. Juveniles were reported to be responsible for about one in five violent crimes, and juveniles in groups were involved in about one in seven serious violent crimes.

A juvenile's chance of becoming a victim of violence or a violent offender is, to some extent, affected by race and geography. Data from the NCVS and the FBI's UCR indicate that African-American juveniles are more likely to be homicide victims and offenders than other racial and age groups. The rate of homicide victimizations for African-Americans was six times greater than for whites in 1994. According to the NCVS, African-American males had a rate of violent crime victimization in 1993 of 76 victimizations per every 1,000 persons, compared with the rate for white males of 59 victimizations per 1,000 persons.

While African-Americans constituted 12.5 percent of the population in 1994, they accounted for nearly 29 percent of the juvenile arrests and more than half of the arrests for violent crime, including 59 percent of the juvenile homicide arrests.

The majority of juvenile offenders and victims are concentrated in large cities. FBI data show that more than half of the juvenile homicide arrests in 1994 occurred in six States -- California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Texas -- and just four cities -- Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York. These accounted for nearly one-third of all juvenile homicide arrests.6 By contrast, approximately 8 out of every 10 counties in the Nation had no known juvenile homicide offenders in 1994.


Separate Juvenile Courts Nebraska has three separate juvenile courts located in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties. In the remaining counties, juvenile matters are heard in the county courts. Separate juvenile courts are courts of record and handle matters involving neglected, dependent, and delinquent children. Clerk Magistrates & Judicial Administrators of County Courts Except in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties, clerk magistrates are responsible for the administrative functions of the county court offices. In Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties, these duties are performed by judicial administrators. District Courts The district courts are Nebraska’s general jurisdiction trial courts. This means that with a few exceptions, civil and criminal cases of all types may be commenced in and tried by the district courts. District courts also function as appellate courts in deciding appeals from various administrative agencies and from most county court cases Supreme Court The Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six associate ­justices. The Chief Justice, who represents the state at large, is appointed by the Governor from a statewide list of candidates selected by a judicial nominating commission. The six remaining associate justices are chosen by the same judicial nominating commission procedure but each represents one of six districts. These judicial districts are approximately equal in population and are redistricted by the Legislature after each census.


In the Beginning (1500s) Could you imagine committing a crime at the age of 11 and having to be confined in a facility with adult offenders? Or having to be subjected to harsh punishment for the crime you committed? Today, our current juvenile justice system ensures that juveniles are dealt with accordingly and focus more on rehabilitating a juvenile by working with them in their home, the community and school. However, this has not always been the case.

Prior to the 1800s, if a juvenile committed a crime, they were punished the same way in which an adult would be punished. The ideology of treating juveniles the same as adults all stemmed from the English Common Law . Under the English Common Law, juveniles were forced into working and were often trained into agricultural or domestic work. Further, many juveniles were apprenticed into adulthood. The same practices under the English Common Law quickly made its way into America and continued until the early nineteenth century.

Although the same practices were established here and juveniles were being tried as adults for crimes in which they committed, civic leaders decided to focus on alternative ways to alleviate the harsh conditions in which juveniles were being subjected to. Thus, they began to refer to themselves as the child savers. The main goal of the child savers was to improve the behaviors of juveniles by creating programs, activities, and providing care to these youths.

Saving Our Children (1800s) The 1800s was the beginning of the Child Saving Movement. With the creation of this movement, the child savers focus was to create programs that focused on reforming juveniles. To accomplish this, the New York House of Refuge was instituted in 1825. The idea behind this institution was to take those juveniles who were considered at risk on the streets and reform them into a setting that was conducive to them, which was usually in a family like setting.

Most of the youths who were admitted into the House of Refuge, were status offenders or children whom their parents were not able to monitor their behaviors. In many cases, they were ordered by court to be placed into this institution. The House of Refuge opened its doors caring for under 10 youths and within a decade of its operation, they had over 1600 youths in which they were working with. As the years went on and seeing the success of it, several other states constructed similar institutions.

While there were, several institutions focused on reforming delinquent youths, there began to be growing concerns as to the treatment of these youths in these institutions. The same issues that we currently face today in many of our correctional facilities, the same was occurring within the House of Refuge. The institution began to see an overcrowding of youth, poor conditions in caring for them and issues with administration. Because of this, the child savers petitioned for there to be a juvenile court and the first one was established in 1899 in Illinois.

Juvenile Court (1900s) In 1899, the first juvenile court was established in Illinois. The development of the juvenile court was to allow for it to have jurisdiction over any child under the age of 16 who was guilty of violating the law, providing care to those children who were being neglected, and to ensure the separation of juvenile and adult offenders. The establishment of the Juvenile Court Act of 1899 was a major movement in the juvenile justice system.

In Different Countries

United States In the United States, the juvenile varies in definition from state to state. The system applies to anyone between the ages of 6 to 10, depending on the state, and 18;[1] except for 11 states (including Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas), where a juvenile is a person under 17 and New York and North Carolina, where it is under 15.[2] Thus, criminal majority begins at 16, 17, or 18.

The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act of 1974 set up four key requirements[3] for US minors:

Firstly, the deinstitutionalization of status offenders, moving them from juvenile hall to community-based or family-based environments. Secondly, segregation (sight and sound separation) between juvenile and adult offenders Thirdly, strong limitation for the juvenile justice system to put juveniles in adult jails. Fourthly, the protection of minority groups from being overrepresented in high-security facilities. All states participate except South Dakota and Wyoming.


France has three stages of minors:[4]

The infant, still without a perception of acts yet, commits no offence and so cannot be convicted. A minor between 7/8 and 13 has his own discernment. No criminal punishment but only educative measures can be pronounced against him, according to a 2002 law. A minor between 13 and 18 who commits an offence can have punishment that is educational or, in special cases, criminal. The criminal irresponsibility of children under 13 is defined by the Article 122-8 of the Criminal Code. Those between 13 and 18 are assumed to be irresponsible, but they can be involved in a criminal sentence if the circumstances and the juvenile's delinquent personality justify.[5]