Minors are those individuals who have not attained legal adulthood (18 years). Once you turn 18, then you must take up whole rights and responsibilities of an adult except some that are reserved until you turn 21. Minors are at the benefit of law as they are presumed to be innocent. It is considered that the legal adults i.e., parents or guardian represent them in all legal formalities and matters.
Now as time progressed, in recent years it was seen that many crimes are being carried out by the youth of the age group between 15- 18 or even known as adolescents. Individuals of this age group are aware about the consequences of the actions they do (E.g., Stabbing a person, strangling, theft etc) unless they are of unsound mind. They are known as juvenile or child in conflict with law.
Juvenile is defined under Section 2(35) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 as a person who has not attained the age of 18. Child In conflict with law is defined under Section 2(13) as a child who is alleged of committing an offence but has not completed the age of 18 at the date of commission of offence.
According to Section 82 of the Indian Penal Code, 1870, an act done by a child under the age of 7 years will not be considered as an offence.
According to Section 83 of the Indian Penal Code,1870, an act done by a child above the age of 7 till the age of 12 is not considered as an offence as he or she is considered immature to understand the gravity or consequences of his actions.
The lawmakers felt that there is a need to revise the laws to correct these individuals, otherwise if let free, could lead to further harm to the society. The main reason to think about it was the advancement in the kind of crimes being committed by the juveniles like murders, rape, dacoity, cyber crimes and many other unimaginable things. To correct them had become the need of the hour as they will be the future adult citizens and hence the future of a country cannot be put at stake.
The first law for juveniles was the Apprentice Act, 1850 under which juveniles convicted from the age group of 10 to 18 were provided with vocational training that can lead to rehabilitation. This was succeeded by the Reformatory Schools Act,1897 and then The Children Act,1960. To get away with the lacunas The Children (Amendment) Act, 1978 was passed.
As time progressed, to bring the municipal law at par with the international laws, by the power of Article 253 of the Indian Constitution read along with entry 14 of the Union list, the Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice Bill, 1986. This was to include the provisions of United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration od Juvenile Justice also known as Beijing Rules 1985.
In this Act, a male was treated as a juvenile till 16 years of age and a female was to be treated as juvenile until the age of 18. Many other provisions for the safety and care for juveniles was also introduced in this Act. Still there were loopholes that were tried to be covered by introducing Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. This was introduced in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC),1989 treaty that India had signed.
Under this the age of juvenile was made equal for both male and female. There was a framework introduced for the protection, treatment, and rehabilitation of juvenile under this Act.
After the unfortunate Nirbhaya incident happened in Delhi in December 2012, there were petitions that the children between the age of 186 to 18 should be tried as adults on the basis of the gravity of the crime he or she has done. It was highlighted before the law as the juvenile who was involved in the crime was just 6 months away from his 18th birthday but the act of the crime, he committed was unimaginable.
This called for an immediate change or revision in the existing laws of India, after which the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was passed. The major change bought in was that an individual in the age group of 16 to 18 years can be tried as an adult based on the crime or offence he has committed.
It is stated that the Juvenile Justice Board as mentioned under Section 3 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, was given the power to decide based on various criteria whether the individual must be tried as an adult or as a juvenile.
Under this Act if a child is being tried as a juvenile, then he or she is sent to rehabilitation homes run by the government or voluntary NGO, then is made to do social work, and after frequent progress checks, if the board feels that he can be let free after the term, then it is done so.
According to me, a crime committed should be rectified and punishment should be given. Not punishing children under the age of 7 is perfectly justified but in recent times there are so many reports of the children in the age group of 15 to 18 committing heinous crimes that one can barely think of. This had to be curbed immediately by the government and law. The juveniles were being protected by the veil of law and it had to be lifted for the betterment of the society. I think this law has changed and developed over the years with the changing needs of the society. It has been integral in developing the juvenile justice system in India.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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