In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency 2. Classification of Juvenile Delinquents 3. Characteristics and Types 4. Methods of Treating Delinquents 5. Role of Police in Protection 6. Preventive Programmes.
- Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency
- Classification of Juvenile Delinquents
- Characteristics and Types of Juvenile Delinquents
- Methods of Treating Delinquents
- Role of Police in Protection of Juvenile Delinquents
- Preventive Programmes for Juvenile Delinquency
1. Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency:
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 is the primary legal framework for juvenile justice in India. The Act provides for a special approach towards the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency and provides a framework for the protection, treatment, and rehabilitation of children in the purview of the juvenile justice system. This law, brought in compliance of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), repealed the earlier Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 after India signed and ratified the UNCRC in 1992. This act has been further amended in 2006 and 2010.
In the wake of the Nirbhaya Delhi gang rape (16 Dec 2012), the law suffered a nationwide criticism owing to its helplessness against crimes where juveniles get involved in heinous crimes like rape and murder. In 2015, responding to the public sentiment, both the houses of Parliament in India further amended the bill that lowered the juvenile age to 16 and proposed adult-like treatment for juveniles accused of heinous crimes.
The lower house, i.e. Lok Sabha passed the bill on May 7, 2015 and the upper house, i.e. Rajya Sabha on December 22, 2015. The bill was approved by President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent on 31st December, 2015.
2. Classification of Juvenile Delinquents:
Juvenile means a person who is very young, teenager, adolescent, or underage. In other words, juvenile means children who have not yet reached the age of adults in the sense that they are still childish or immature. Sometimes the term “child” is also interchangeably used for the term “juvenile”. As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, a juvenile shall not be treated as an adult even if he/she is involved in any criminal acts for the purpose of trial and punishment in the court of law.
In legal terms, a juvenile can be defined as a child who has not attained a certain age at which he can be held liable for his criminal acts like an adult person under the law of the country. Juvenile is a child who is alleged to have committed certain acts or omissions which are in violation of any law and are declared to be an offence. Juvenile is a child who unlike an adult person, having not attained prescribed age, cannot be held liable for his criminal act. The age criteria for being a juvenile vary from country to country and state to state.
In ancient India, a parent was supposed not to punish a child who is under five years of age for any offence. As per the law prevailing then, a child of such tender age should be nursed and educated with love and affection only. After the age of five, punishment may be given in some suitable form such as physical chastisement or rebuke by the parents. Towards the latter half of the childhood, punishment should be gradually withdrawn and replaced by advice. From the age of sixteen upwards, sons and daughters should be treated as friends by the parents.
The term juvenile delinquency applies to violation of criminal code and certain patterns of behaviour that are not approved for children and young adolescents. It may be grouped as individual delinquency (in which only one individual is involved and the cause of the delinquent act is traced to an individual delinquent), group supported delinquency (committed in companionship and the cause is attributed not to the personality of the individual but to the culture of the individual’s home and neighbourhood), organized delinquency, and situational delinquency.
A delinquent young person is disobedient and wayward, cannot be controlled by the parents and teachers, is not amenable to any kind of discipline, is self-willed, and habitually acts in a manner injurious to the welfare and happiness of oneself and others.
Nature and Incidence:
The National Crime Records Bureau s data shows that in the past decade, the rate of juvenile offences has steadily increased.
3. Characteristics and Types of Juvenile Delinquents:
Petty crimes in general and heinous crimes in particular are being committed regularly in India by children. Crimes such as theft, burglary, and snatching which are not so serious in nature but crimes such as robbery, murder, and rape, etc. which are relatively serious are on the rise in whole of the country. Among juveniles also there is a specific trend that juveniles between the ages of 16 to 18 years are found to be more involved in heinous criminal acts.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the data of 2013 shows that of the 43,506 crimes registered against minors under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Special Local Law (SLL) by juveniles, 28,830 had been committed by those between the ages of 16 to 18. The statistics also show the number of juveniles found to be in conflict with law under the IPC and the SLL has risen 13.6% and 2.5% respectively in 2013, as compared with 2012.
The inhuman gang rape of a young girl on December 16, 2013, shocked the collective conscience of the nation. The brutality with which the heinous crime was committed was most shocking; it was later found out that among five accused, one was a minor and he was the most barbaric one.
Again, in another brutal gang rape case which is known as Shakti Mill rape case, a minor was involved. These and several more recent events have triggered a public debate that the present Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 which treats persons below the age of 18 years as minor or juvenile, should be amended.
Some of the most common causes which are associated with juvenile crimes are- poverty; drug abuse; anti-social peer group; easy availability of firearms; abusive parents; single-parent child; nuclear family; family violence; child sexual abuse, and role of media. However, as far as India is concerned, poverty and the effect of media are generally considered to be the main reasons for juvenile delinquency.
It is extremely difficult to assess precisely the extent of the problem in any part of the country since accurate statistics are not available and are not an indicator of the true extent. This is because of the fact that a large number of such acts remain undetected or unreported. Nevertheless, it has been observed that delinquency rates are highest in all developed countries.
It is in countries with the highest levels of technical and economic advancement that social change occurs most rapidly, and traditional social roles and institutional controls over child conduct tend to break down. Different scholars have classified juvenile delinquents on a different basis.
Hirsch classified them in six groups on the basis of kinds of offences committed:
1. Incorrigibility (for example, disobedience and keeping late hours),
2. Truancy (staying away from school),
3. Larceny (ranging from petty thefts to armed robbery),
4. Destruction of property (both public and private),
5. Violence against individual or community, and
6. Sexual offences ranging from homosexuality to rape.
Eaton and Polk, classified delinquents into five groups according to the offence- minor violations (disorderly conduct and minor traffic violations), major violations including thefts, property violations, addiction, and bodily harm including homicide and rape. Trojanawicz classified them as accidental, ill socialized, aggressive, occasional, professional, and gang-organized.
Eaton and Polk classified the delinquents by the following types of offences they have been involved in:
(1) Minor violations which include disorderly conduct and minor traffic violations.
(2) Property violations which include all property thefts, except automobiles.
(3) Major traffic violations which include automobile theft and drunk driving and any other offence that would involve an automobile.
(4) Human addiction which includes sex offenses as well as alcohol and drug addiction.
(5) Bodily harm which includes homicide offenses that involve sexual deviation, such as rape, and generally, all other acts of violence against a person.
Kvaraceus classifies youngsters who become delinquent in relation to three major variables:
(1) The extent to which the individual engages in delinquent behaviour.
(2) The degree of demonstrable emotional pathology.
(3) The individuals’ social class.
4. Methods of Treating Delinquents:
The seriousness of offences committed by juveniles is taken into consideration under the Juvenile Justice JJ Act and Rules in the following ways- Juveniles who are not released on bail, are required to be first placed in the reception unit of an institution called the Observation Home (OH), pending inquiry.
Here, along with age, physical, and mental status, the degree of offence allegedly committed is also considered in order to classify and segregate the juveniles so that all children residing there get the requisite care and protection while in the Home. Juveniles who are alleged to have committed a serious offence may also be housed in a place of safety instead of the OH during the period of inquiry.
The state governments have been empowered to frame rules to provide for the classification and segregation of juveniles also in Special Homes (SH) (institutions where a juvenile may be placed as per a final order of the Juvenile Justice Board JJB) on the basis of age, the nature of offence committed, and their mental and physical status.
The JJB can also pass a final protective custody order that a juvenile above 16 years of age who has committed an offence “so serious in nature” that it would not be in his interest or the interest of other juveniles in an SH to place him there and that none of the other measures specified would be suitable, be kept in a place of safety.
Juveniles who have been found guilty of committing heinous or serious offences can, at the most be sent to an SH for a maximum period of three years. At the time of passing final orders, the JJB can also reduce the period of stay if it satisfied that it is necessary to do so having regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances of the case.
Such juveniles, like all others, are entitled to be socially integrated/ rehabilitated through adoption, foster care, sponsorship, and after care. After care organizations are mandated by law to take care of juveniles after they leave the SH for the purpose of enabling them to lead an “honest, industrious, and useful life”. Such after care can be provided for a maximum of three years, and for a juvenile between 17 and 18 years of age, till he/she attains the age of 20 years. All juveniles in after care come under the jurisdiction of the JJB. The law demands that intensive individualised attention be provided to such juveniles. Probation officers, the key duty bearers in this regard, are required to undertake a number of responsibilities that are vital to achieve the goals relating to juveniles who commit serious offences including developing various kinds of care plans, facilitating after care, and mentoring, monitoring, supervision, and reporting the progress of each juvenile.
Individual Care Plans (ICPs) must be prepared for all juveniles within one month of their admission into an institution in order to ensure they get individualized attention in their journey towards reformation, rehabilitation, social mainstreaming, and restoration back into the community. The JJBs are required to pass final orders based on these ICPs prepared by a probation officer or voluntary organization on the basis of interaction with the juvenile and his family where possible.
Moreover, a Mental Health Care Plan, with recommendations from experts has to be maintained in every case file and integrated into the ICP of every juvenile.
An appropriate response to juveniles who commit serious crime requires a system that demands specialized customized responses based on the needs and circumstances of each juvenile, while also taking into consideration the impact on the victim of his crime (if any), and the wider interests of the society.
From the above analysis, it is clear that juvenile law in India does indeed provide for a juvenile jurisprudence grounded system which focuses on reforming and rehabilitating juveniles who commit serious crime through services that are monitored and reviewed rigorously. It also retains the focus on the ends of justice, taking into account the interests of the victim and the wider society.
Custody in Juvenile Institutions:
The Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act, 2000 seeks to consolidate and modify the law relating to juveniles in conflict with the law and children in need of care and protection, by providing for proper care, protection, and treatment by catering to their development needs, and by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interest of children. For the betterment of the children, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 has introduced Special Trial Process.
5. Role of Police in Protection of Juvenile Delinquents:
The police has an important role in apprehending and protection of juvenile delinquents. The police has more contact with the juveniles than any other agency dealing with the juvenile delinquents. The police is a separate agency from the juvenile court and it is also guided and directed by the policies and philosophies of the Juvenile Court with which the police has to work.
Thus, in order to understand the police’s behaviour towards juveniles, it is essential to understand all the facts of the juvenile court. In America, the police have evolved a distinctive style and approach towards offenders (juveniles as well as adults) and they have a unique effect on many of juveniles they contact. Moreover, the police have some kind of contact with those who are more misbehaving than the other delinquents.
All the delinquent and misbehaving children are picked up and arrested by the police but less than half are referred to the juvenile court and other half are to be handled independently by the police. The police decide which children will be handled and how. In addition, police have many more informal functions and encounters with children on streets and in places where they (children) loiter and their main function is to protect them from harm and maintain law and order.
In India also, police have an important role for protecting the children from harm and maintaining the law and order. It is necessary that sympathetic treatment should be given to such type of children who do commit mistake or offence so that they do not repeat such omission. Therefore, manner of handling of the juvenile by the police determines the child’s subsequent behaviour to a large extent.
Constitution of Special Juvenile Aid Police Unit:
India is a very wide country having many states and union territories. It has divergent problems so different ways and means are required to tackle this issue. Urban areas, cities, towns, industrial habitations, etc. face this problem more. In many states, only city police has a special wing but in the rural areas such trained police is not available. For instance, Mumbai has got a Juvenile Aid Police Unit established in October 1952 as a part of vigilance branch under the control of a Deputy Commissioner of Police (criminal branch) headed by a lady inspector.
The Juvenile Aid Police Unit deals with the cases of pre-delinquent, delinquent, socially handicapped, and victimized children and enforces the provision of Bombay Children Act. Apart from it, there was a Bombay Railway Juveniles Guide Service especially for boys who had run away and were picked up in the railway station. In 1958, a boys club has been established for children between ages of 10 to 16.
Tamil Nadu also has such boys clubs. Chennai city has a Juvenile Aid Police Unit. Hyderabad has Juvenile Aid Bureau under a Deputy Superintendent of Police. There are male and female officers in this bureau who are specially trained in this work. Andhra Pradesh also has a police boys club. Bihar had ‘Juvenile Aid Bureaus’ at Ranchi and at Patna. Each Bureau had 8 members under one Inspector of Police. Delhi Police also established a ‘Juvenile Aid Bureau’.
Calcutta Police started a bureau in 1958 under inspector of police who worked under the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Detective Department. The officials in the bureau were not given any special training but were given only workable information. Unless specially trained police is deployed and mindset of police is changed to work and act as a friend of the people, particularly juveniles, noticeable and expected change in the working of the police cannot be brought about.
Subsequent to the establishment of Juvenile Aid Police Unit in Bombay, Juvenile Aid Police units/bureaus were established at Kolkata in 1956, Hyderabad in 1958, Chennai in 1960, Calicut in 1970, and Bhilai, Indore, and Jabalpur in 1974. The third Five Year Plan took note of the good work done by these special police units and recommended their expansion for dealing with juveniles, including vagrants, delinquent children, and children in pre-delinquent stage.
On the basis of their study on Juvenile Aid Police Unit in the country, Shukla and Malviya suggested that it is necessary to establish specialist units in all the big cities with a population of one lakh or more, where the problem has already assumed significant proportions and where it would be feasible to have a body of specially trained officers engaged in this task on a whole time basis. The specialist units should be a part and parcel of the general police function and their work should be fully integrated with normal police work at the level of the police station.
The National Police Commission favoured a less aggressive approach in dealing with children of tender age. It recommended that juveniles becoming way-ward, taking drugs, and pilfering objects out of bravado and smartness could be warned on record and their parents duly advised. Persons in danger of falling into the clutches of criminals could be brought to notice of social welfare organizations.
Counselling and warning should be deemed legitimate as police activities towards prevention of crime. The commission further recommended that the police be trained and equipped properly with service oriented functions, including the counselling of the persons in distressful situations, which the commission recognized as service par excellence. The commission recommended that police should make a start in the metropolitan cities with this activity of counselling.
In regard to the role of police in the enforcement of social legislations, including Children Acts, the commission took the view that as the primary law enforcement agency available to the State, police cannot escape involvement in the enforcement of such laws; rather, police have a duty to enforce these laws.
In taking this view, the Commission rejected the conservative view that police should have nothing to do with social and economic legislations because:
(1) The police are concerned with the basic criminal law only;
(2) Due to deficiencies of manpower and equipment, they can barely manage to enforce the basic criminal law and cannot undertake a wider role;
(3) Socio-economic reform is not the business of police; and
(4) Greater efficiency would result from concentration on a narrow role.
The Commission endorsed a forward looking view and observed that:
(1) Police are the primary law enforcing agency and must enforce all laws;
(2) Social and economic legislations represent an attempt to fulfil the aspirations of the people as outlined in the preamble of the Constitution and the Directive Principles of State Policy, and therefore, police must lend a hand in this national effort;
(3) By enforcing these laws police would be acting as agents of social change, a role which is definitely better for their psychological health than the traditional negative and punitive role; and
(4) Social legislations often aim at social defence which being preventive in approach is of direct concern to the police.
After having taken this positive view, the commission recommended that a separate police wing might be set up for the enforcement of all social legislation. The main reason advanced for this suggestion was that the enforcement of social legislation requires a certain operational approach and attitude of mind on the part of the enforcement personnel which can be brought about by specialization and training.
The commission recommended the creation of special police squads for metropolitan and other important cities which should function under the supervision of the city Police Chief. This recommendation of the Commission endorses the idea of establishing special juvenile aid police that had been considered appropriate for dealing with the cases of delinquent and non-delinquent children needing police attention and care.
Special Training Programme for Police:
A special unit of police is necessary for the big cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Delhi etc. at the police station level where one- to-one contact takes place between the police and the delinquent. There must be at least one Inspector of Police having interest in the field. He must have attended special courses on the issue. This aspect of special training of Liverpool model has been discussed and recommended by the Annual Conference of inspector General of Police of all states and in 1960 they recommended a committee for preparing the training courses.
A high level committee recommended a training programme, and also establishment of an institute on the pattern of central forensic institute of Calcutta and on the pattern, a national institute was established in Delhi. Educational institutions like colleges and universities in India should conduct such course and seminars for these investigational staff to provide opportunities for participation of and discussion amongst police, judges, lawyers, social workers, etc. on their point of view regarding handling such a sensitive issue.
Such seminars and courses whenever conducted, should be attended by the higher cadre of academic, judicial, and administrative wing and by the persons working in the field who have to deal with day-to-day situations. These seminars should aim at sensitization of all concerned at all levels so that real goes to concerned lot, i.e., the juvenile delinquents and the society as well.
Such programmes are very necessary for spreading awareness and knowledge to the students and general public about causes and ways and means by which such delinquency may be controlled and reduced in the society. This subject should be included in the teaching curriculum at the school level.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 in Chapter IV titled “Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration” has taken some new and positive steps by inserting sections 40 to 43 in the Act. Section 40 deals with process of rehabilitation and social reintegration.
It provides that the rehabilitation and social reintegration of a child shall begin during the stay of the child in a children home or special home and the rehabilitation and social reintegration of children shall be carried out alternatively by- (i) adoption, (ii) foster care, (iii) sponsorship, and (iv) sending the child to an after-care organisation.
Section 41 deals with ‘adoption. It envisages that the primary responsibility for providing care and protection to children shall be that of his family. Subsection (2) provides that adoption shall be resorted to for the rehabilitation of such children as are orphaned, abandoned, neglected, and abused through institutional and non-institutional methods.
According to sub-section (3) in keeping with the provisions of the various guidelines for adoption issued from time to time by the state government, the board shall be empowered to give children in adoption and carry out such investigations as are required or giving children in adoption in accordance with the guidelines issued by the state government from time to time in this regard.
Sub-section (4) of the section provides that the children homes or the state government run institutions for orphans shall be recognized as an adoption agency both for security and placement of such children for adoption in accordance with guidelines issued under sub-section (3).
Sub-section (5) has, however, put certain restrictions by inserting therein that no child shall be offered for adoption:
(a) Until two members of the Committee declare the child legally free for placement in the case of abandoned children,
(b) Till the two months period for reconsideration by the parents is over in the case of surrendered children,
(c) Without his consent in the case of a child who can understand and express his consent.
Sub-section (6) further states that the Board may allow a child to be given in adoption:
(a) To a single parent, and
(b) To parents to adopt a child of same sex irrespective of the number of living biological sons or daughters.
It may be submitted that a balance is to be found between this Act and the said section and the Adoption and Guardianship Acts in this area and such conflicts may be ironed out in course of time by court decisions if some problem arises. However, this provision is a pragmatic step in the right direction and empowering the board with such wide powers is appropriate. But such jurisdiction should be exercised transparently and with an open mind and not influenced by agents or institutions exploiting children for gains.
6. Preventive Programmes for Juvenile Delinquency:
There may be two kinds of programmes for preventing the juvenile delinquency:
(i) Individual Programme:
Individual programme involves the prevention of delinquency through counselling, psychotherapy, and proper education.
(ii) Environmental Programme:
Environmental programme involves the employment of techniques with a view to changing the socio-economic context likely to promote delinquency.