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Assessing juvenility a ‘delicate task’: SC

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Structure, functioning and organization of judiciary, schemes and laws to protect vulnerable sections of society, JJ Act etc

 

Source: The Hindu

Context:

  • The “delicate task” of deciding whether juveniles aged between 16 and 18, accused of heinous offences such as murder, can be tried like adults should be based on “meticulous psychological investigation” rather than be left to the discretion and perfunctory “wisdom” of juvenile justice boards and children’s courts across the country, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.
  • The apex court’s judgment came while dismissing the appeals filed by the CBI and the relative of a Class 2 child who was allegedly found murdered in the washroom of his Gurugram school in 2017.
  • The apex court upheld the High Court’s decision to reverse the assessment and refer the case back to the Juvenile Justice Board for a fresh ‘preliminary assessment’ of the new 21-year-old.

 

Background:

  • Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015: It requires a “preliminary assessment” to be done of the mental and physical capacity of juveniles, aged between 16 and 18, who are involved in serious crimes.
    • The assessment is meant to gauge a child’s ability to understand the consequences of the offence and the circumstances in which he or she allegedly committed the offence.
  • Opinion of Board: If the Juvenile Justice Board is of the opinion that the juvenile should not be treated as an adult, it wouldn’t pass on the case to the children’s court and hear the case itself.
  • Juvenile care vs children court: In that case, if the child is found guilty, he would be sent to juvenile care for three years. On the other hand, if the Board decides to refer the case to the children’s court for trial as an adult, the juvenile, if guilty, would even face life imprisonment.

 

Guidelines by Supreme Court:

  • The Board which conducts the assessment of the child should have at least one child psychologist.
  • It should further take the assistance of experienced psychologists or psychosocial workers.

 

Juvenile Justice Board (JJB):

●      Juveniles accused of a crime or detained for a crime are brought before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 (amended in 2006).

●      It counsels the child to understand their actions and persuade them away from criminal activities in the future.

●      The JJB consists of a judicial magistrate of the first class and two social workers, at least one of whom should be a woman.

●      JJB is meant to resolve cases within a four-month period.

●      Most circumstances the juvenile can be released on bail by the JJB.

 

Insta Links:

Juvenile Justice Amendment Act 2021

 

Practice Questions:

Q. Examine the main provisions of the National Child Policy and throw light on the status of its implementation. ((UPSC 2016)

Q. The Juvenile Justice Amendment Act 2021 further empowered the District Magistrate. Critically analyze.

 

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. Juvenile justice board consists of a judicial Magistrate and two women as members.
  2. Under Juvenile Justice Amendment Act 2021, Serious offences include offences for which the maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years.

Which of the statements given above is/are not correct?

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (a)

Justification:

  • The JJB consists of a judicial magistrate of the first class and two social workers, at least one of whom should be a woman.
  • Serious offences will include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is less than seven years.