Gist of Changes in Juvenile Justice Act Notes | Study Gist of Rajya Sabha TV / RSTV (now Sansad TV) - UPSC

UPSC: Gist of Changes in Juvenile Justice Act Notes | Study Gist of Rajya Sabha TV / RSTV (now Sansad TV) - UPSC

The document Gist of Changes in Juvenile Justice Act Notes | Study Gist of Rajya Sabha TV / RSTV (now Sansad TV) - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Gist of Rajya Sabha TV / RSTV (now Sansad TV).
All you need of UPSC at this link: UPSC

Context

Recently, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister approved the proposal of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

Background

  • The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act was introduced in 2015. 
  • It replaced the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act).

Summary of the Debate

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2015

  • It was introduced and passed in Parliament in 2015 to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000
  • The main provisions of the new Act were allowing the trial of juveniles in conflict with law in the age group of 16-18 years as adults, in cases where the crimes were to be determined. 
    • The nature of the crime, and whether the juvenile should be tried as a minor or a child, was to be determined by a Juvenile Justice Board
    • This provision received an impetus after the 2012 Delhi gangrape in which one of the accused was just short of 18 years, and was therefore tried as a juvenile.
  • The other major provision was with regards to adoption, bringing a more universally acceptable adoption law instead of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956) and Guardians of the ward Act (1890) which was for Muslims, although the Act did not replace these laws. 
  • The Act streamlined adoption procedures for orphans, abandoned and surrendered children and the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.

Key Changes in Juvenile Justice Act

  • The amendments include authorizing the District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrates to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability. 
  • The District Magistrates have been further empowered under the Act, to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions. 
  • Defining eligibility parameters for appointment of CWC members, and categorizing previously undefined offences as ‘serious offence’ are some of the other aspects of the proposal. 
  • Several difficulties faced in implementation of various provisions of the Act have also been addressed.
  • The amendments, once approved by Parliament, will increase the role of district magistrates and empower them to undertake inspections of childcare institutions. 

Inclusion of serious crimes other than heinous crimes

  • As per Juvenile Justice Act 2015, juveniles charged with heinous crimes and who would be between the ages of 16-18 years would be tried as adults and processed through the adult justice system. 
    • The amendment passed by the Union Cabinet has included for the first time the category of “serious crimes” differentiating it from heinous crimes, while retaining heinous crimes. 
    • Both heinous and serious crimes have also been clarified for the first time, removing any ambiguity.
    • Most heinous crimes have a minimum or maximum sentence of seven years.
  • For a juvenile who has been tried for a heinous crime as an adult, the punishment of the crime should not only have a maximum sentence of seven years or more, but also a minimum sentence of seven years.
    • This provision has been made to ensure that children, as much as possible, are protected and kept out of the adult justice system. 
  • Heinous crimes with a minimum imprisonment of seven years pertain mostly to sexual offences and violent sexual crimes.
    • At present, with no mention of a minimum sentence, and only the maximum seven year sentence, juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years could also be tried as adults for a crime like the possession and sale of an illegal substance, such as drugs or alcohol, which will now fall under the ambit of a “serious crime’’.

More power to district and additional district magistrates

  • District magistrates (DMs) along with additional district magistrates (ADMs) will monitor the functioning of various agencies under the JJ Act in every district. 
  • This includes the Child Welfare Committees, the Juvenile Justice Boards, the District Child Protection Units and the Special juvenile Protection Units.
  • No new children’s home can be opened without the sanction of the DM.
  • DM’s are responsible now for ensuring that CCIs falling in their district are following all norms and procedures. 
  • The DM will also carry out background checks of CWC members, who are usually social welfare activists, including educational qualifications, as there is no such provision currently to check if a person has a case of girl child abuse against him.
  • DM will also now be in charge of sanctioning adoptions, removing the lengthy court process to hasten the process of adoption and ensure the swift rehabilitation of children into homes and foster homes. 

Conclusion

This was a much awaited change that was the need of the hour. There have been difficulties as far as JJ act is concerned with regards to implementation and that has been one of the biggest challenges at the district level. As we know each district is different in our country and is very difficult to have a uniform system and that’s why these amendments are welcome because it empowers the district collector to ensure that he/she can do his/her job at the local level. Officials can be held accountable but their empowerment is also necessary. 

The document Gist of Changes in Juvenile Justice Act Notes | Study Gist of Rajya Sabha TV / RSTV (now Sansad TV) - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Gist of Rajya Sabha TV / RSTV (now Sansad TV).
All you need of UPSC at this link: UPSC

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