Definition of Child and Juvenile under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and other various laws:

Generally, a “child ”mean a person who has not attain the age of 18 years and is not mature to understand that what is right and wrong . In modern era, the penal laws of most countries have adopted the principle of ‘doli incapex’, which means of knowing that act there are committing is a crime. The penal laws also states that  Only child between the age of seven to twelve age can be convicted, provided that, the act they have committed is a heinous crime and they have knowledge and has attained the sufficient knowledge to understand the consequences of their act.

According to sub- section 12 of Section 2 of The Juvenile (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 a “child” means a person who has not completed eighteen years of age. The Act classifies the term “child” into two categories: –

  1. “child in conflict with law”, and
  2. “child in need of care and protection”.

The child who has committed an offence and he or she is under the age of 18 years on the date of commission of the offence is basically called as “ child in conflict with law”. The second sub – category is “ child in need of care and protection”  means a child ad defined under Section 14 of the Act.

Children Act, 1960 :- Section 2(e) of the Act states “ child” means a boy who has not attained the age of sixteen years or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years.

United Nations Convention : – The UN  Convention on the Rights of Child, 1989 defines that “child” means a human being below the age  of eighteen years unless the law declaration applicable to child , majority is attained earlier.

Difference between a Juvenile and a Child:

A person under the age of full legal obligation and responsibility is a minor or a person who is below the legal age of eighteen years is minor. A child being accused of a crime is not tried as an adult and is sent to Child Care Centre whereas juvenile is a person  between the age group of sixteen and eighteen years. A young person who is been accused of crime is a juvenile offender and is tried as adult in court proceedings.

In general sense both the term has same meaning but however difference lies in context of implications in the eyes of law. Minor implies young and teen persons whereas  juvenile either indicates immature person or young offenders.

History of Juvenile Justice System in India

In present era, a movement for the special treatment of juvenile offenders has started throughout the world including many developed countries like U.K., U.S.A. This movement has been started around the 18th century.  Prior to this, juvenile offenders were treated as same as other criminal offenders. And for the same reason, General Assembly of United Nations has adopted a Convention on the Rights of Child on 20th November 1989. This convention seeks to protect the best interest of juvenile offenders.

The Convention states that to protect the social – reintegration of juvenile, there shall be no judicial proceeding and court trials against them. The Convention leads the Indian Legislation to repeal the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986   and to make a new law. Thus, Indian Legislation came up with a new act which was called as “The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

The Juvenile Justice, 1986 which repealed the earlier Children Act, 1960, aimed at giving effect to the guidelines contained in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice adopted by the U.N. countries in November 1985.The above mentioned Act consisted of 63 Sections, 7 Chapters and is extended to whole India expect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The primary purpose of the Act was to provide care and protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of the neglected juvenile delinquent. The main objectives of the Act were:-

The act basically laid down uniform framework for the juvenile justice in country in such a way that it protects the right and interest of juvenile.

It talks about the machinery and infra – structure for the care, protection treatment, development and rehabilitation of the juvenile offenders.

It set out the basic provisions for the proper and fair administration of criminal justice in case of heinous crime done by juvenile offenders.

Juvenile Justice Act , 2000

The Act was enacted in  year 2000  with aim and intent to provide protection for children. The mentioned was amended twice – first in the year of 2006 and later in year of 2011 .The amendment was made to address the gap and loopholes in the implementation.

Further, the increasing number of cases of juvenile crimes in the last recent years  and frightful incident of  “Delhi Gang Rape Case” has forced the law makers to come up with the law. The major drawback of the Act was that it contains  ill equipped legal  provisions and malfunctioning  juvenile system  was also the major reason in preventing the juvenile crimes in India. The act was replaced soon by The Juvenile Justice( Care and Protection) Act, 2015.

Present Juvenile Justice System in India

Like the other  countries , India had also made legal provisions that especially and specifically deals with the rights and protection of juvenile offenders  which seeks to tackle the problem of juvenile delinquency. The Juvenile Justice System in India is made on the basis of three main assumptions:-

  1. young offenders should not be tried in courts , rather they should be corrected in all the best possible ways,
  2. they should not be punished by the courts , but they should get a chance to reform
  3. trial for child in conflict with law should be based on non-penal treatment through the communities based upon the social control agencies for e.g. Observation Homes and Special Homes.

Juvenile Justice Act,2015

Aim and Object of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015:

The provisions of this Act apply to all the matters concerning ‘Children in need of Care and Protection’ and ‘Children in Conflict with Law’, including,

  1. Procedures and decisions or orders relating to rehabilitation, adoption, reintegration, and restoration of children in need of care and protection;
  2. Apprehension, detention, prosecution, penalty or imprisonment, rehabilitation and social integration of children in conflict with law; in a child friendly manner.

The Act aims at adjudicating and disposing cases dealing with juveniles/children keeping in mind “the best interest of the children and their rehabilitation.”

The aims to consolidate the laws relating to children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection by catering and considering their basic needs through proper care & protection , development, treatment , social- integration , by adopting a child friendly approach in the adjudication and disposal of matters in the best interest of children. The act also focuses on rehabilitation of juvenile offenders through  various child care houses and institutions. The most important subjects of the Act are as follows:-

Claim of Juvenility

The very first and most debatable  question among the legal fraternity and socialists is the “ claim of juvenility”. The claim of Juvenility is to be decided by Juvenile Justice Board. The Board has to decide the claim of juvenility before the court proceedings but the claim of juvenility can be raised before the court at any stage of proceedings and even after the disposal of the matter by the Board .The Board had to consider Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007 in order to determine the claim of juvenility. In case of  KulaiIbrahim v. State of Coimbatore it was observed by the Court that accused has right to raise the question of juvenility at any point of time during trial or even after the disposal of the case  under the Section 9 of Juvenile Justice Act , 2015.

 In case of Deoki Nandan Dayma v. State of Uttar Pradesh the court held that entry in the register of school mentioning the date of birth of student is admissible evidence in determining the age of juvenile or to show that whether the accused is juvenile or child.

Again in the case of   Satbir Singh & others v. State of Haryana, Supreme Court again reiterated that for the purpose of determination whether accused is juvenile or not , the date of birth which is recorded in the school records shall be taken into consideration by Juvenile Justice Board.

In case of Krishna Bhagwan v. State of Bihar the court stated that for the purpose of trial under Juvenile Justice Board , the relevant date  for the considering the age of juvenile should be on which the offence has been committed.

But later in case of Arnit Das v. State of Bihar , the Supreme Court overruled its previous decision and held that date to decide in  claim of juvenility should be the date on which the accused is brought before the competent authority.

Juvenile Justice Board

There shall be  a constitution of Board for the purpose of inquiry and hearing in the matters of juvenile in conflict with law.

The Board shall consists of Principal Magistrate and two social workers, among whom one should be a women. The Act provides that under no circumstances the Board  can regulate and operate from regular court premises. The decision taken by the Principal Magistrate shall be final.,

Special Procedure of Juvenile Justice Board :-

The Act has provided the procedure against the juvenile offender .Following are the main special procedure –

  1. The proceedings cannot be initiated on a complaint registered by the police or citizen
  2. The hearing must be informal and should be strictly confidential.
  3. The offenders should be kept under Observation Home after detention.
  4. The trial of juvenile in conflict with law shall be conducted by lady Magistrate.
  5. A child in conflict with law may be produced before an individual member of the Board , when Board is not sitting.


Juvenile crimes are a harsh reality, and to reduce them, the Act must be effectively implemented, along with that awareness must be created. The approach and the thinking of the essential players in the system, like the police needs to change from punishing to reforming the juveniles in conflict with law. There are psychological, biological, physiological and personal factors which are responsible for juvenile delinquency, along with other factors such as peer pressure, physical disability, love for adventure, dissatisfaction with school. Family is the one of the oldest and most important units of society, it is responsible for the socialization of the child. Care must be taken to ensure that all the facets of the justice system are taken into consideration to allow the main objective and the aim of the act survive.

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