Juvenile Justice in India

 The term “JUVENILE” derived from a Latin word “Juvenis”, that means young. A “JUVENILE” means a person who has not completed eighteen years of age and treated as young criminal in eyes of law. “Children are the important asset for the overall development of the country and the sole responsibility to provide adequate services to children up to full physical, mental and social development is of nation and state”[1]. One of the reason that India still comes under developing country is lack of education, opportunities, development programs, proper justice and health schemes and that’s why no of crimes committed by juveniles  are increasing from last some years than overall crime in India. There are many factors, which force juveniles to commit a crime such as social factors, family factors, cultural factors, biological factors and other factors, we will discuss further in detail. Many acts, constitutional and criminal provisions are enacted to safeguard the interest of juveniles. Now many juvenile courts are established by the state so that the matter related to juvenile should be sort out in this court. This article starts with describing history of  juvenile justice before and after independence. The main points of the article is which we further discuss in detail are-

  • History of juvenile justice in India
  • What should be age of juveniles?
  • Whether Juvenile delinquents, who commit heinous crimes should be treated as adults?
  • Causes of juvenile crimes in India



In history, India has separate treatment for juvenile delinquents. The separate treatment for children is considered from Code of Hammurabi in 1790 BC. During the colonial regime, in 1843, the first center for those children called “Ragged School” was established by Lord Cornwallis. The period between 1850 and 1919 was marked by social and industrial upheaval

The  Apprentices Act, 1850 tells us that the children under the age of 15 years found to have committed petty offences will be bounded as apprentices.

Thereafter, the Reformatory Schools Act, 1897 came into effect to reform the juvenile offenders by sending them to reformatory cell. The Act of Criminal Procedure, 1898 provided special provisions for juvenile offenders


 In 1950, after independence, our constitution come up with varieties of rights and under which many rights are provided to children for their save and better future and to protect them from problems which faced by them before independence. Article 15(3), 21, 24, 39(e), 41, 45 and 47 are the constitutional provisions which are as follows-

Article 15 (3): Permits the State to make special provisions for children and women

Article 23: Prohibits the traffic in human beings and forced labour

Article 24: Forbids the employment of children below the age of 14 years in factories, mines and other hazardous occupations

Article 39 (e): Directs the State to safeguard the tender age of children from entering into jobs unsuited to their age and strength forced be economic necessity

Article 39 (f): Directs the State to secure facilities for the healthy development of children and to protect childhood and youth against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.

Article 45: Requires the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to age of 14 years.

Article 47: states it is the duty of the state to raise level of nutrition and standard of living.Parliament has enacted the 86th Constitutional amendment in 2002 and made Right to Education a fundamental right.

These constitutional provisions are provided to children to overcome the miseries, which are faced by them before. After that in 1960, Indian penal code comes under existence and laid some sections are enacted to improve the condition of the children. First  Section 82 0f Indian penal code 1960 provide full protection to the child under age of 7 years from any act which done by him/her. Section 83 provides that nothing is offence, which is done by a child of above 7 years and below 12 years if the child is not enough mature to know the right & wrong and to know the consequences of the act.

The Juvenile Justice Bill, in conformity with Beijing Rules, was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on 22ndAugust, 1986, and the Central Children Act was replaced by this Juvenile Justice Act[2]. “In 1974, India declared its National Policy for children. The policy included, among other things training and rehabilitation of delinquent, destitute, neglected and exploited children”[3]. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, brought in conformity of Child Rights Convention 1989. Than this act is amended in the year 2006 and 2010.

Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) act, 2012 is amended by Juvenile justice (care and protection of children) act 2015. This act was passed by lok sabha and rajya sabha and finally came into existence from 15th January 2016. The aim to amend the juvenile justice act, 2012 into juvenile justice act,2015, is to improve the  Indian juvenile delinquency law, juvenile justice (care and protection of children) act,2012, so that juveniles in conflict with law in the age group of 16-18, involved in Heinous offences, can be tried as adults and justice is given to everybody equally


Juvenile is a child who not an adult person, having not achieved prescribe age. The age criteria  for being a juvenile vary from country to country, state to state. What should be the age of  juveniles has been a difficult and contentious issue in juvenile justice. There are  number of cases  in this regard and have different judgement. According to juvenile legislation in India, a juvenile is a person of age below than eighteen years of age. According to section 83 of Indian penal code Only children below seven to twelve years of age who are  not enough mature to understand the consequences of the act is granted blanket immunity.The purpose is not to treat such children as adults for their criminal conduct but to improve and regenerate them.


In various past year cases,  juvenile have given full protection because of their age they are treated in juvenile court and given less punishment in heinous crime. Delhi Gang Rape case, probably known as Nirbhaya Case. After 2012 Delhi gang rape case, the accused in the case was below than by few months 18 hence trial was done in the juvenile court. On July 2013 , Subramanian swami , a BJP politician filed a PIL in the supreme court of India seeking that the boy be treated as an adult in a court in such a heinous crime and supreme court allowed the juvenile court to give its judgement, the boy was given punishment of  3 years in a rehabilate home on 31august 2013[4].  People are not satisfied towards the court judgement, minister of women and child development , Maneka Gandhi said that, “50% of the juvenile crimes were committed by teens who know that they will get away with it. She added that changing the law, which will allow them to be tried for murder and rape as adults will scare them”. And the juvenile justice act 2015 is passed to treat juvenile as a adult in heinous crime. The reform is necessary for proper justice and otherwise the juvenile can do murder, rape, grievous hurt and other heinous crimes and have trial in juvenile court where they get maximum punishment of 3or 4 years for such a heinous crime for which the punishment is death penalty or life imprisonment. And after 3or4 years when they come back and they will again commit any one of the heinous crime.  If there is any special provision is given by the state for the betterment of the children it should not be misused. 

The main motive of this article that more and more should aware of the fact that rights and benefit which is given  by state and constitution it should not be misused. The juvenile justice is given importance for the better future of children and this will lead to better and developed country.  According to my opinion, juvenile should be treated as adult all those where they have knowledge about right & wrong  and  consequences of their act. Juvenile courts are made for the children, who are innocent and they don’t know what they are doing and not enough mature. Juvenile justice system still need improvements so that injustice should not be there and equality should be maintained.


[1] Declaration of National Policy for children 1947

[2] Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs.  The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. New Delhi, The Gazette of India, 2000

[3] Hansaria V, Jose PI. Juvenile Justice System, Delhi. Universal Law Publishing Company Pvt. Ltd., 2011

[4] State of  delhi vs Ram singh and others

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