Objects, aims and reasons of enacting the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children), Act, 2000

In this context the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 repealed the existing Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 with a view to achieve the following objects:

(i) To lay down the basic principles for administering justice to a juvenile or the child in the Act;

(ii) To make the juvenile justice system meant for a juvenile or the child more appreciative of the developmental needs in comparison to criminal justice system as applicable to adults;

(iii) To bring the juvenile law in conformity with the United Convention on the Rights of the Child;

(iv) To prescribe a uniform age of eighteen years for both boys and girls;

(v) To ensure speedy disposal of cases as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India by the authorities envisaged under this Act regarding juvenile or the child within a time limit of four months;

(vi) To spell out the role of the State as a facilitator rather than doer by involving voluntary organizations and local bodies in the implementation of the proposed legislation;

(vii) To create special juvenile police units with a humane approach through sensitization and training of police personnel;

(viii) To enable increased accessibility to juvenile or the child by establishing juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees and Homes in each district or group of districts;

(ix) To minimize the stigma and in keeping with the developmental needs of the juvenile or the child, to separate the Act into two parts—one for juveniles in conflict with law and the other for the juvenile or the child in need of care and protection;

(x) To provide for effective provisions and various alternatives for rehabilitation and social reintegration such as adoption, foster care, sponsorship and aftercare of abandoned, destitute, neglected and delinquent juvenile and child.

This Act aims to consolidate and amend the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, by providing for proper care, protection and treatment by catering to their developmental needs, and by adopting a child friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interest of children and for their ultimate rehabilitation through various institutions established under this enactment.

Reasons for the enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000:

(1) The Indian Constitution has, in several provisions, including clause (3) of Article 15, clauses (e) and (f) of the Article 39, Articles 45 and 47, impose on the State a primary responsibility of ensuring that all the needs of children are met and that their basic human rights are fully protected.

Clause (3) of Article 15 states that nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children. Clause (e) of Article 39 states that the health and strength of workers, men and women and the tender age of children are not abused and that the citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.

Clause (f) of Article 39 states that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

Article 45 states that the State shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

Article 47 of the Constitution states that the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.

The above Articles of the Constitution of India impose on the State a primary responsibility of ensuring that all the needs of children are met and that their basic human rights are fully protected.

The General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the 20th November, 1989. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has prescribed a set of standards to be adhered to by all State parties in securing the best interests of the child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasizes social reintegration of child victims, to the extent possible, without resorting to judicial proceedings.

Since the Government of India has ratified the Convention on the 11th December, 1992, it decided to re-enact the existing law relating to juveniles bearing in mind the standards prescribed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 (the Beijing Rules), the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990), and all other relevant international instruments. Hence, the Parliament enacted the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and made the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2001.

As per Section 1 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, it extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It came into force on April 1, 2001 vide Notification No. 80177 (E) Dt. 28-2-2001.

Section 1(4) provides that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the provisions of this Act shall apply to all cases, involving detention, prosecution, penalty or sentence of imprisonment of juveniles in conflict with law under any such law.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 deals with three types of juvenile or children problems—(i) juvenile in conflict with law; (ii) child in need of care and protection; and (iii) rehabilitation and social reintegration of a child.