GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection of vulnerable sections
Direction: The article discusses the need to frame new guidelines for the Preliminary Assessment of children (between 16-18) in conflict with the law as adults under the JJ Act.
Context: The NCPCR has come up with draft guidelines on the preliminary assessment of whether certain minors are to be tried under law as adults in particular cases, under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
- Previously, all children under the age of 18 were deemed minors by the law, but a provision was added to the JJ Act in 2015 that allows a child in conflict with the law to be tried as an adult.
- In cases of heinous offences, a child between the ages of 16 and 18 may be tried as an adult, and the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) must perform a preliminary assessment to determine whether to try such a child as an adult or a minor.
- If tried as an adult, the child may be sentenced to jail, with the exception of death or life imprisonment
Need for the NCPCR’s draft guidelines:
- Recently, the SC held that the task of preliminary assessment under the JJ Act is a “delicate task” and the assessment requires expertise and direction to put in place specific guidelines.
- The NCPCR has framed guidelines which describe the key procedures to conduct the preliminary assessment.
- While the course of assessment may differ from child to child, the guidelines are meant to frame essential components and the basic mechanisms to address any ambiguity.
The draft guidelines:
- The preliminary assessment has to determine four aspects:
- The physical capacity of the child
- Mental capacity
- Circumstances in which the offence was allegedly committed
- Ability to understand the consequences of the alleged offence
- It also states that the experts (from the field of child psychology and psychiatry) must be given an optimal opportunity to interact with the child to build a rapport.
- A copy of the assessment (conducted within 3 months of the child being produced before the JJB) must be given to the child and a legal aid counsel must be present during the assessment.
- The JJB must rely on the Social Investigation Report, statements of witnesses and interaction with parents, guardians, school staff, peer groups and neighbours.
Q. Is the National Commission for Women able to strategize and tackle the problems that women face in both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer. (UPSC 2017)