JUVENILE JUSTICE IN BHARAT AND AROUND

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Published On: 5th May, 2024

Authored By: Varisha Rehman
Asian Law College

ABSTRACT

The study dwells deep into the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency together with justice procedures in Bharat as well as in a few other nations like Brazil and Japan. As for the subjects covered, it mentions numerous universal causes that lead to delinquency. Cultural and social attitudes influence juvenile delinquency and these are also discussed in the research work. Few countries’ governments don’t budge on juvenile sentencing even for a 14-year-old child while other ones consider it a kid’s mistake. The reasons why there is an age difference in these countries’ relationship with each other are also described. The article also devotes a part to discussing the international cooperation mechanisms for juvenile offenders transfer and rehabilitation. Additionally, the study elaborates on how this kind of problem can be eventually stopped, which also combined with other steps, will lead to the development of the nation.

INTRODUCTION

Juveniles are children aged below 18 or are not adults yet. In Bharat, juvenile crime is a grim reality. A juvenile cannot be held accountable for the same crime as an adult would have been held. When referring to a young offender the term juvenile or delinquent is used. Be it anywhere in the world, juvenile crime endangers the future of a country. It is the young minds that are forthcoming of the nation. There are various reasons why a child can turn into a delinquent. A minor who is not educated or not made aware of the rights and wrongs of society can be intrigued to commit crimes.

An individual’s mental state has a significant impact on their social conduct. Impulsive behavior, uncontrolled aggression, poor mental health, and other factors can intrigue delinquent behavior. Various social and economic reasons can lead to crimes by the young population of a country.

In Brazil, 66% of the family live in poverty[1]. Some children don’t attend any school. The main offenses committed by them are theft and drug trafficking. They can also be involved in murder. In Japan, there has been an increased trend in juveniles in the past 10 years. Assaults, slashing, attacks with dangerous objects, and bloody gang battles have risen in number. The youth crime rate remains five times greater than the adult rate even after thirty years.

The victims are the ones most obviously impacted by juvenile crime. The juvenile who commits the crime also suffers loss. It has effects that cannot be predicted. The upheaval and trauma of having a delinquent as a family member can create instability for other relatives. There is a correlation between juvenile delinquency and drug use, gang involvement, and alcohol abuse.

JUVENILE CRIME – MEANING

Someone who is of tender age and is yet to be considered an adult is an adolescent. They have crossed the age of a kid and are in the most important growth phase. It is this phase where a person can be manipulated easily and it is also the phase where a person adapts to the changes mentally as well as physically. According to the legal dictionary, Juvenile delinquency is the participation by a minor child, usually between the ages of 10 and 17, in illegal behaviour or activities[2]. Juveniles violate the social norms set by the society. These children are considered to be out of parental control and thus become subject to legal action in the court of a country. Juvenile delinquents are also referred to as juvenile offenders. Each country has its own way of dealing with juvenile offenders.

When the origin of the term is mentioned, it is intriguing to know the term delinquency is derived from the Latin word, ‘delinquer’’ which means to ‘omit’. One legal maxim frequently connected with adolescent misbehaviour is “parens patriae.” This Latin phrase means “parent of the country” or “parent of the nation.” In the context of juvenile justice, the concept of parens patriae gives the state the authority and obligation to act on behalf of juvenile offenders who require care, protection, or rehabilitation. It expresses the idea that the state serves as a guardian for adolescents who are incapable of caring for themselves or have participated in criminal behaviour.

Bharat is a developing country and is in the crucial years of its growth. The population boom as well as rapid urbanization have created a huge difference between the rich and the poor. It has also contributed to increased crimes, violence, mob lynching, and many other social issues. Moreover, digitalization has brought to the forefront of the world and also created new problems of cyber security.

UNIVERSAL CAUSES OF JUVENILE CRIME

The high rate of juvenile delinquency is a cause of concern in every modern society. Various causes of juvenile crime are addressed by various sociologists and psychologists.

The family that is broken and has tension in them is one of the reasons.  The child’s behaviour can be influenced by the character and conduct of their parents. There are times when a child isn’t able to find love, support, and affection at home as the parents are busy with work. The children tend to join groups outside the family. A family’s inability to provide material support can push the child to seek this outside.

An increase in the rate of juvenile delinquency can be found in places with war or continuous tension areas.  The child can be made to participate in war, and their education can be hindered gravely. The surroundings can make a child emotionally unstable. A feeling of inferiority and insufficiency can inspire the child to commit a criminal offense.

Poverty is the mother of all evils. Poor parents can’t provide even for the basic needs of the child. Thus, sometimes the parents themselves motivate their kids to do anti-social work such as theft, pickpocketing, trafficking, etc. A hungry person be it a child can sin and be unruly steal, rob, etc. The children from low-income families can work or are employed in hotels, cinemas, shops, and wealthy families. This results in an inferiority complex and mental stress.

Children living in such conditions can have bad habits of intoxication, smoking, gambling, theft, and prostitution. Even those working under older servants can manipulate these children to perform juvenile crimes.

EVOLUTION [3] OF JUVENILE JUSTICE IN BHARAT

In ancient Bharat, the parents were not supposed to hurt a child below the age of 5 for any offense. During this stage of life, the children were supposed to be lived and cared for. After the age of 5, punishment is given but according to the gravity of the crime. In the latter half of childhood, punishment is gradually withdrawn and replaced with advice. From the age of 16, the children were to be treated as friends.

The formation of the first juvenile court in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1920 under the Children Act of 1920[4] marked a watershed moment in Bharat’s juvenile justice history. The Children Act of 1920 sought to offer particular protection and care for children (under the age of 16) in dispute with the law, emphasizing rehabilitation and reformation above punishment.

The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986[5] was groundbreaking legislation that recognized that children in trouble with the law were not ordinary criminals, but rather persons in need of both care and protection. The new notion of a Juvenile Welfare Board evolved to monitor the implementation of the Act, as did the establishment of observation homes to offer temporary refuge to children awaiting judicial processes.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 [6]created Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) to handle cases involving juvenile offenders, as well as Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) to address concerns with children in need of care and protection. This involved integrating the Juvenile Justice Act with the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This modification increased the age of juvenile delinquency from 16 to 18 years.

Another substantial modification occurred in 2015, following a high-profile case involving a juvenile culprit charged with the violent rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi in 2012. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 is an essential piece of law designed to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. It includes provisions for the rapid trial of offences against minors, as well as the formation of special courts to handle such matters. The National Policy for Children (2013) establishes a comprehensive framework for the protection and welfare of children in Bharat, including steps to combat juvenile delinquency and enhance their well-being.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, of 2015 included a subtle provision allowing teenagers aged 16 to 18 to be prosecuted as adults for severe crimes such as rape and murder.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2021[7] amendment demonstrates Bharat’s resolve to strengthen the juvenile justice system. This amendment established provisions for foster care and adoption of children. Furthermore, it strengthened efforts aimed at comprehensive rehabilitation and social reintegration of young offenders. In addition, it increased the importance of both Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in decision-making.

BHARAT AND JUVENILE CRIME TRENDS

In Bharat, daily, several minor and serious crimes are committed, such as stealing, burglary, snatching, robbery, dacoity, murder, and rape. Regretfully, those who commit these crimes are all under the age of eighteen. Authorities in Bharat filed charges against 27,936 adolescents in 2012. A pattern among juveniles indicates that those who are between the ages of sixteen and eighteen have a higher likelihood of being involved in serious criminal offenses. According to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)[8], there were 31,170 incidents nationwide reported against minors in 2021, a 4.7% rise from 29,768 instances in 2020.[9]

The incidence of juvenile offenses in Delhi increased dramatically in the previous year, ranging from stealing, inflicting harm, attempted murder, and murder. The national capital had the greatest prevalence of child crimes last year, according to the most recent National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data; more juvenile criminals were apprehended in Delhi than in states like Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. Delhi is in sixth place with around 2,340 incidents involving minors. Over 2,643 incidents involving juveniles were reported in 2020.

CASE LAWS IN BHARAT THAT HAS CHANGED PERSPECTIVE

GOPINATH GHOSH VS THE STATE OF WEST BENGAL [10]

The circumstances surrounding the arrest and custody of a juvenile criminal were taken into consideration by the Supreme Court of Bharat in the 1961 case of Gopinath Ghosh v. State of West Bengal. A juvenile named Gopinath Ghosh was taken into custody and arrested for a criminal offense. However, the Supreme Court stepped in to address questions about his age and the propriety of his imprisonment. The court stressed how critical it is to handle young offenders with consideration and compassion, acknowledging their fragility and the need for further legal protection. The court decided that in juvenile justice processes, the child’s well-being should come first. It emphasized the idea that rather than being exposed to harsher punishments, young criminals should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

MUKESH & ANR V. STATE (NCT OF DELHI) & ORS [11]

The Nirbhaya case is one of the most famous rape cases in Bharat. The event occurred on December 16, 2012, and the verdict was delivered on September 15, 2017, following a drawn-out five-year legal process. When the crime was committed, one of the defendants in this case was just 17 years old. the adolescent did not get a harsh sentence because of juvenile statutes in effect at the time. The death penalty was imposed on other rapists. After three years, he was allowed to leave the correctional home. The tremendous uproar in 2015 resulted in modifications to the legislation imposed on minors who were in legal trouble. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act was later approved by the Lok Sabha, and it stipulated that minors between the ages of 16 and 18 might be prosecuted as adults if they were suspected of committing serious crimes.

BRAZIL AND JUVENILE JUSTICE

Brazil has alienated socioeconomic groups because of historical factors, namely slavery and racism. Typically poor, black-skinned, religiously African, etc. People who experience marginalization as a result migrate to the outskirts of cities. Generally speaking, poverty and limited access to public services make a person feel cut off from society, which can foster an atmosphere that encourages violence.

Brazil has seen a comparatively high incidence of adolescent criminal activity, encompassing crimes like drug trafficking, theft, robbery, and violence associated with gangs. Urban violence, social injustices, and economic inequality are frequently mentioned as causes of adolescent unlawful activity. Gang and organized crime are major issues in many Brazilian cities, especially in highly populous cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The 1990-enacted Statute of the Child and Adolescent (Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente, or ECA) [12]serves as the main legislative framework for Brazil’s juvenile justice system. The ECA is a comprehensive legal framework that outlines the rights and safeguards available to adolescents and children, including those who are in legal trouble. The crimes committed by such juveniles in Brazil are referred to as offenses or “infringement acts,” in violation of the law, and the penalties are known as “socio-educational measures” under the Statute of Children and Adolescents.

The legal age of criminal responsibility in Brazil is twelve years old. This implies that minors are not criminally liable for their deeds until they become 12 years old. Protective measures were in place for crimes committed by minors (those under the age of 12). Nevertheless, if the crime is committed by a teenager (12–18 years old), it should be reported to the Police for Juveniles.

Juveniles commit “offenses” or “infringement acts” rather than “crimes” (like adults). The condemnation for juveniles is enforced by “socio-educational measures,” while the adult receives a “penalty.” This implies that a minor who committed an infringement act at the age of twelve (12) may be arrested per the act, face charges from the prosecution, and receive legal representation from a public defender at no expense to him. The juvenile will be judged by a judge.

The ECA offers socio-educational programs as an alternative to jail for more serious crimes committed by teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18. These policies seek to make juvenile offenders accountable for their crimes while offering them social and educational assistance. Probation, living in a halfway home, or attending a specialized school are a few instances of socio-educational interventions.

JAPAN AND JUVENILE JUSTICE

Japan has a very low crime rate committed by both adults as well as by juvenile. The most intriguing fact is that adolescent crime is actually more common in Japan than adult crime, and this phenomenon is unique to Japan. The Transition of Juvenile and Adult Crime Rate from the Early 1950s after the War to 2010 shows that for 56 years, juvenile crime in Japan has outpaced adult crime.

the term “Juvenile” refers to a person under 20 years of age; the term “Adult” refers to a person of 20 years of age or older. “An act of a person less than 14 years of age is not punishable,” states Penal Code, Chapter VII Unpunishable Acts and Reduction or Remission of Punishment, Article 41, according to the Japanese Law Translation website. According to Juvenile Act, Section 3 Dispositions, Article 51, “In case a person who is under 18 of age at the time of the commission of an offense is to be punished with the death penalty, life imprisonment shall be imposed” for another murderer who is 14 years of age or older.[13]

There were 323,000 instances of bullying in schools in Japan in 2016 among elementary, junior high, and high school students, according to a bullying rate table included in the White Paper’s 2016 edition. The research indicates that the majority of incidents of school bullying have involved lower education levels, such as elementary and junior high school students.

Japan has seen an overall decrease in the rates of adolescent crime over the last ten years. This pattern is consistent with larger cultural shifts, such as improving socioeconomic circumstances, funding more youth initiatives, and addressing underlying risk factors for criminal activity. The prevention and intervention of adolescent delinquency remains a top priority for Japanese authorities. This includes initiatives to boost community-based programs and services, encourage good youth development, and offer assistance and direction to at-risk young people.

CONCLUSION

The future of a nation mostly depends on the next generation. A nation’s human resource base determines whether it will evolve into a developed nation or whether its growth will be stagnant. Investments in the citizens’ development are therefore essential, particularly in the case of the younger generation, which includes children, adolescents, and teens. They will undoubtedly grow up to be law-abiding citizens if they are raised with love, care, and moral principles instilled in them. However, they may become delinquents, or those who behave inappropriately or disregard social conventions, laws, and regulations, from an early age if they are mistreated, raised in unsavoury company, or endured abuse as a youngster.

How can we deal with it? Family support is the best deal with the juvenile. Providing the juvenile with the education and not blocking opportunities in another way. Law binds the criminal for his/her wrongdoings but still, it provides them with the basic fundamental rights. These rights should be always be kept in mind while dealing with juveniles or any other criminal.

Awareness is very important and needs to be made about all social issues. Juvenile crime puts the future of a nation in danger.

Reference(s):

[1] Institute of Applied Economic Research, Technique Note (São Paulo, SP, Brazil, 2015)

[2] Juvenile – Definition, Examples, Cases (legaldictionary.net)

[3] https://lawctopus.com/clatalogue/clat-pg/juvenile-justice-system-in-india-evolution-and-defects/

[4] https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/19233/1/a1925-35.pdf

[5]https://indianrailways.gov.in/railwayboard/uploads/directorate/security/rpf/Files/law/BareActs/juvenile1986act.html

[6] https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention

[7] https://cara.wcd.gov.in/PDF/JJ%20Amendment%20Act%20-2021_.PDF

[8] https://ncrb.gov.in/

[9] https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/juvenile-crime-rate-highest-in-delhi-last-year-ncrb-data-9056140/

[10] AIR 1984 SC 237

[11] (2017) 6 SCC 1

[12] https://www.unafei.or.jp/publications/pdf/RS_No101/No101_13_IP_Brazil.pdf

[13] https://edubirdie.com/examples/juvenile-delinquency-and-laws-regarding-juveniles-in-japan-analytical-essay/#:~:text=The%20juvenile%20crime%20rate%20is,five%20times%20higher%20than%20adults.

 

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