SILENCE SHADOWS: ADDRESSING THE RISE OF JUVENILE CRIMES IN INDIA

Published On: 22nd June, 2024

Authored By: Manya Verma
C.S.J.M University

ABSTRACT

While minors are considered as vulnerable individuals in need of protection and rehabilitation, there are alarming increase in heinous crimes like murder, rape, etc. committed by minors. The occurrence of such crimes by such minors puts a huge question mark on our judiciary system as well as the whole society.  

This article tries to throw lights on the alarming trend of minors getting involved in committing such serious and heinous crimes and also on apparent silence of the Indian judicial system in addressing such issues. It’s not only a concern for judiciary system but a major concern for the whole society as well.

With such rise of such juvenile crimes, question arise on the existing law and its effect and responsiveness of the judiciary. Despite the rise of such crime or offence, the leniency afforded to juvenile offenders under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, has raised doubts and adequacy of legal safeguards and the effect of law.

INTRODUCTION

Juvenile, any person who has not attained the age of majority (at the age of 18-years) and has committed any crime, whether heinous or not; are nowadays so much involved in committing the heinous crimes like rape and murder. These days, there are so many news all around how a minor is killing someone or raping. This not only put the question marks on our judiciary system but also on a whole society as these minors are the future of the society and also one who will shape the future and in such cases, alarming rise of such cases is dangerous. Country’s future relies more on its future generation who will play most important part in contributing to the country’s development. Thus, it becomes necessary to invest more on younger generation that consist of children, adolescents and teenagers.

Juvenile is a grim reality. The scariest thing is that juvenile have recently been proven to be involved in most heinous crimes like rape, gang-rape and murder. But, the juvenile who commits such crime, are just putted in juvenile home, also referred to as ‘correctional facility’ for few years and then are released without any strict punishment. The purpose for sending them to juvenile home if for character reformation and inculcation of good habits to make them useful for society; but it seems, as the trend are rising, the procedure should be tightened, as when such juveniles are allowed back in a society, it puts society at the risk. As per unknown statistics, likelihood of repeating crimes is high.

 As per various experts, the current law is insufficient to deal with such problems and that it has to be changed and be stricter so that, irrespective of age, they can be prosecuted and sentenced for severe crimes.

STATS

As per the annual figures by the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau);

  1. In 2012, police in India charged 27,936juveniles for alleged involvement in heinous crimes like banditry, murder, rape and rioting. According to NCRB report, two-third (66.6%) juveniles among those who faced juvenile board, were between the age of 16 and 18 years. The report also showed that 30.9% were aged between 12 and 16 years and the remaining 2.5% were aged between 7 and 12 years.
  2. As per NCRB data, from 2002 to 2012, there’s an increase of 143% in number of rapes by juvenile. Also figures of murder have gone up by 87% and an alarming increase of 500% in number of kidnappings of women and girls by minor.
  3. As mentioned in news site of The Indian Express, as per latest report by NCRB report, a total of 30,555 crimes were committed by minors in 2022. Delhi ranked 6th with more than 2,340 cases against minors. In 2020, more than 2,643 cases were filed against minors.

The highest number of crimes committed by minors was reported by Maharashtra with 4,406 cases, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 3,795 cases and Rajasthan with 3,063 cases. In conclusion, rate of such crime has gone up to 42% in Delhi; 12% in Maharashtra and 13% in Madhya Pradesh.

As per news site of The India Express, published in December, 2023-

  1. Over 92 murders and 154 attacks were committed by minors in Delhi.
  2. Over 286 minors were involved in other assault cases. As per the data, most minors apprehended by police were involved in theft (866 cases) and robbery (235 cases). Over 33 teenagers were also booked under the Arms Act for carrying deadly weapons.
  3. Data also shows the slow disposal of cases as more than 5,128 minors have been left waiting for trial since 2021. Only 729 minors were sent to correction homes while others were released “after advice” or their FIRs were quashed.
  4. 2022, more than 1,894 fresh cases against minors were pending trial. Most children caught in Delhi “lived with their parents” and had studied “above primary to matric” level.
  5. Offences at railway stations shoot up. In the last year, Delhi witnessed a major spike in offences such as thefts and assaults at railway stations. As per data, over 3,243 cases were reported by the Government Railway Police last year — a 39% increase from 2,332 cases reported the year before. In 2020, 2,117 cases were lodged. Out of the total offences in 2022, over 3,089 cases are of theft.
  6. At 15.4%, Delhi also has the second-highest rate of railway crimes. Maharashtra with 15.8% is the highest [source: The Indian Express]

Such stats actually shows where the youth of the country is going and it’s also scary as to how the future will be when the younger generation are being involved in such heinous activity.

JUVENILE DELIQUENCY

The term, juvenile delinquency refers to participation of any person, below age of 18 years, in any illegal crimes or offence. In simple words, when a juvenile’s action is proved to be dangerous towards the society, he may be called as juvenile delinquency. The act of delinquency may consist of running away from home, use of inappropriate or vulgar languages, murder, use of drugs or so, committing sexual offence, etc.

BUT WHY SUCH RISE IN JUVENILE CRIMES?

As it’s said, no one is born criminal, but it’s the surrounding that makes on a criminal. The causes for such crime can be-

  1. Individual Factors: There can be several factors that can lead an individual to a delinquent acts. A minor with lower intelligence or with no proper education or some of his own physical or mental abuse is more likely to be involved in such delinquent act. Also his own nature and behavior, like, impulsive behavior, aggressive nature, etc. can also be the factor for such acts.
  2. Family Factors: Any family feuds, or neglect, abuse, or the behavior of them or their treatment towards the minor can also be considered as a factor. Even feud between the parents can be the reason.
  3. Substance Abuse Factors: Today, in the modern era, the use of drugs or any such illegal substance and addiction to such, leads the minors and adolescents to commit crimes.
  4. Technology: Today is the era of social media, online explorer and chatting and also online content like OTT, films, web series also plays the role. Minors are someone who can easily be influenced by online technology. Even the movies and web series that are released are easily accessible to kids and children in-spite the age restriction are also one of the factor. As these are wide platform and one can have no control on what is available on such platforms and minors easily get influenced by watching such contents, movies and web series.
  5. Poverty: It has been seen in so many cases how, on not getting basic necessity or for greed, the minors are ready to indulge in such delinquent acts or crime to get those necessities. Poor children often get involved in crimes like theft, stealing, robbery and such other criminal activities.
  6. Other Factors: Change in lifestyle also can be a main factor as today lot of parents are working person and mostly they either leave their children with a nanny or to a daycare, and not able to spend time with them. In such case, one can never know, what kids are being taught by the nanny or in the daycare, or what their intentions are or how can they influence the children in negative way. So such busy life can also be one factor. Some other factors can be child labor, abusive childhood, traumatic experience, financial issue, mental illness, anger issue or bad surroundings etc.

JUVENILE CASES IN INDIA

  1. Narayan Chetanram v. State of Maharashtra
  2. Reserved on: 12.04.2022 v. Union Territory of J&K
  3. Auj Kumar v. State of U.P.
  4. Sheela Barse v. Union of India
  5. Pratap Singh v. State of Jharkhand
  6. Hari Ram v. State of Rajasthan
  7. Sampurna Behura v. Union of India

HEINOUS CRIMES BY JUVENILE

  1. Nirbhaya Case: December 16, 2012; when whole nation shook of this case where Nirbhaya was brutally gang-raped and killed by six men on a moving bus. Though five of her rapist have been hanged, but sadly one of them, a 17-year-old juvenile named Mohammed Afroz was released by Juvenile Justice Board after serving three years in a reformation home. What’s more shameful is that Juvenile Justice Board brushed away the allegation stating it as a ‘media-hype’ and now that culprit is roaming freely with a new identity.
  2. Amarjeet Sada: Considered as world’s youngest serial killer who killed three children at the age of 8. In 2006, he killed one of his cousin baby sister by strangling her to death. As per a report. He found it amusing. And after that he buried the baby somewhere under the ground. After that, Sada’s second victim was his own 8-year-old little sister whom he throttled. And in 2007, his streak of killing ended with him killing a six-month-old girl in his neighborhood by strangling her and hitting her with a brick. Finally, when the mother of six-month-old dead complained to police and then Sada himself confessed of all the crimes he did. He was arrested and sent to a remand home, but after turning 18-years, he was released with a new identity. A psychologist, who assessed him said that Sada was a sadist.
  3. Two youth were accused of raping an infant after kidnapping her in Nangloi.
  4. 17-year-old strangled an elderly woman in South Delhi’s BK Dutt Colony, but was later released from juvenile home for ‘good behaviour’.
  5. Three borderline juvenile gunmen opened fire in a chamber, killing a police officer.
  6. Two juvenile allegedly shot an Uber driver and fled away with the car after dumping his body.
  7. 17-years-old, released from a juvenile home, allegedly killed another teenager after a month by stabbing the victim. As per a report, six cases including robbery, cheating and assault has been earlier registered against the 17-year-old juvenile.
  8. In a latest gruesome case, a 16-year-old boy allegedly stabbed a 17-yar-old over 50 times and dragged his lifeless body through the dingy street of Janta Mazdoor Colony. He was even seen dancing next to the body after killing him. As per police, the killer has been involved in a murder-robbery case.
  9. A six year old girl was allegedly raped by 11-year-old boy in Agra. The girl is said to being a critical condition.
  10. A 16-year-old girl was brutally killed by a boy on a busy street. The victim and killer were in a relationship and they had an argument. The boy brutally stabbed the girl and no one came to help. The bystanders were just making the video. The whole incident was recorded in the CCTV camera.

IS THIS PUNISHMENT ENOUGH?

A “child” is defined as a person who has not reached the age of eighteen, according to Section 2, sub-section 12 of The Juvenile (Care and Protection) Act, 2015. The term “child” is divided into two groups under the Act:

  1. “A child who is in confrontation with the law,” and
  2. “A child in need of protection and care”

A “child in confrontation with the law” is a child who has committed an offence and is under the age of 18 at the time of the offence. A “child in need of care and protection,” as described by Section 14 of the Act, is the second category. According to the Act, the maximum sentence for juvenile offenders is three years, and this sentence is applicable to both serious and minor offences. In the instance of an adult perpetrator, the highest penalty that may be imposed is 7 years in jail, life in prison, or the death sentence.

[Source- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act, 2000]

But the question is, is this enough? Sending the juvenile to the reformation home or juvenile home and then releasing them after a tenure with a new identity is enough? There has been a case where even after releasing from such, he again does a crime, but now he knows that being a minor, he will be released. Isn’t it shameful how instead of being scared of law and punishment, they tend to kill because our judiciary system is so weak that Juvenile Justice Board will release them for so called ‘good behavior’?

This clearly shows how much our judiciary n lacks the law to protect the society.

There was a case where an 11th class student killed a seven year old student of same school. And the reason for such crime was that he was weak in studies and he had an exam on that day and just to get the school to declare the holiday for no exam, he slit the throat of 8-year-old.

This shows how aggressive and stone hearted this generation have become where for no big reason. The minors are killing as it’s just a mere act! There was another case where a boy killed his mother just because she stopped him from using the phone. And they are the future of our country and obviously, due to lack in our judiciary system that provide no strict law and procedure for such crime, they will be released on the basis of ‘good behavior’.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Juvenile has been involved in a various crimes committed such as rape, sexual harassment, acid attacks, violent killing, etc. In recent times, there have been cases where young people have been involved in serious crimes against women, like harassment, rape, acid attacks, and even violent acts. To address this issue, a part of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 called Section 18(3) says that if a young person is found to have committed a very serious crime and is over 16 years old, the Juvenile Board can move their case to a Children’s Court. In this court, they may be sent to a safe place while their mental and physical abilities to commit such crimes, their understanding of the consequences, and the situation in which they committed the crime are checked. Based on this assessment, the Children’s Court can decide to send them to jail.

But now it’s a high time when a strict procedure and law should be made without letting them go easy on the basis of their age. The majority age should be declined to 16 and all the adult law should be applied on above 16.  And for someone, who has committed heinous crimes like rape, gang-rape and murder should not be released but sent to jail. It’s important to make a fear of Juvenile Boar among the youth.

CONCLUSION

Increase of such crime at alarming rate is a major concern of the whole society and judiciary system. The laws are needed to be amended to the strict one. The OTT platform movies, web series are needed to being restricted as movies, web series and social media plays the bigger role in influencing the mid of children. Today, the children are also involved in pornography at large.

A criminal is a criminal and in such cases, the age should not be a factor to release the criminal.

There are so many cases, especially those of Sada and Feroz who were released after serving in Juvenile Board and the scary part is, we don’t know where the released juveniles are or who they are. Can court or Juvenile Justice Board take a guarantee that after being released of juvenile home, the released juvenile won’t kill again? There has been cases where juvenile even after being release committed the crime the government and judicial body should seriously look into the matter and introduce the necessary strict laws and procedure for such criminals without any discrimination on the basis of age. One should be punished for the nature of crime. Hopefully the judicial body will work on it to make the younger generation better.

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