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Tags Current Affairs

Amendments in Juvenile Justice Act

Date: 22 February 2021 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

The union cabinet has made some major amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 in a bid to bring in clarity and also entrust more responsibilities on bureaucrats when it comes to implementing provisions of the law.

 

Details

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 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.

  • One of the main provisions of the new Act was 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 second 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.

 

Significance

  • Most heinous crimes have a minimum or maximum sentence of seven years. According to the 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 this week 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.

  • For a juvenile to be 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. 

  • 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.

 

Challenges

In its attempt to provide better protection to children in need of care, the challenge perceived is that of having given too many responsibilities to the DM.

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