Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Indian Parliament Passed 'Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015'

Child Or Adult?
Finally, JJ Bill - Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015 - cleared opposition led ‘Rajya Saba’ and now waiting for presidential approval to become law. There is a lot of questions on the decision to try juveniles aged between 16-18 as adult criminals. Unfortunately for all of us, our beloved parliament had little time to discuss matters of critical importance.

Main points in this bill are,

As per this bill ‘JJB (Juvenile Justice Board)’ and ‘CWC (Child Welfare Committee)’ will be formed in each district.

There will be an option for those (aged 16 – 18 years) who committed heinous crimes to be tried as adults. Under this bill there are three types of crimes – heinous (which attracts an imprisonment of 7 or more years under current law; Serious Offence (which attracts an imprisonment of 3-7 years) and ‘petty offence’ is the one which can result in a jail term of 3 years.

However, the person aged between 16-18 will not be prosecuted as adult automatically. “Whether the child committed the crime of heinous category in an adult or child mind, will be first assessed by the Juvenile Justice Board… comprise of psychologists, social workers and experts.”

One of the major hurdles faced by this bill was the fact that, it is based on NCRB data - which states that there is a spike in the crimes committed by people aged between 16 to 18. Unfortunately, NCRB data is based on number of FIRs filed (not as per actual conviction rates).

As per today’s report in ‘The Hindu’ (Why the FIR doesn’t tell you the whole story – The Hindu) they analysed all 500 cases involving sexual assault that had been came to Delhi’s six district courts in 2013 to present; and 142 cases decided by Mumbai’s two sessions courts.

These case included those which are filed under Molestation (IPC 354), Kidnap (IPC 363), Kidnapping a woman for marriage (IPC 366), rape and Sexual Offences against children (POCSO Act). Report states that, one quarter of all cases involved parents filing cases of kidnap and rape against young men who eloped with their young daughters (Many of them are inter-caste and inter-religion relationships). Out of 142 cases filed in Mumbai courts, only 41% resulted in convictions for crimes against women and girls; in 105 cases registered for Rape only 37% resulted in convictions. However, user POCSO conviction rate is much higher at 67%.

Hence NCRB data is not a factual indicator.

Overall the law looks good as it won’t trial juveniles aged between 16-18 automatically as adults; at the same time, it won’t allow juveniles who committed heinous crimes to escape using technicalities.
My only problem is, our parliament is hardly interested in spending time in conducting meaningful discussions on important bills.


Note 1: UNCRC states that signatory countries should treat every child under the age of 18 years in the same manner and not try them as adults.  While the 2000 Act complies with this requirement, the Bill does not.  However, many other countries who have also ratified the Convention try juveniles as adults, in case of certain crimes.  These countries include the UK, France, Germany, etc.  The United States is not a signatory to the UNCRC and also treats juveniles as adults in case of certain crimes. – PRS [1]


1. PRS – PRS Legislative Reserch (
2. The Hindu

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