Cabinet approved amendments to the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Bill 2014
The proposed Act provides that cases of heinous crime committed by a person in the age group of 16-18 years will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed as a child or as an adult.
The Union Cabinet on 22 April 2015 approved amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014. The bill seeks to amend the Justice Juvenile (JJ) Act, 2000 to try juveniles who are accused of heinous crimes under laws for adults.
The amendment to the JJ (Amendment) Bill, 2014 incorporates the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee that studied the bill. The bill was referred to the Standing Committee after it was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 12 August 2014.
Some of the approved amendments to the JJ (Amendment) Bill, 2014 include
• Clause 7 which relates to trial of a person above the age of 21 years as an adult for committing any serious or heinous offence when the person was between the ages of 16-18 years has been removed
• The period of preliminary inquiry by the Juvenile Justice Board in case of heinous offences committed by children in the age group of 16-18 years has been enhanced.
• Reconsideration period for surrender of children by parents or guardians has been increased
• The period for inter-country adoption in case the child is not given for domestic adoption has been enhanced
• The role of designated authority to monitor the implementation of the Bill has been assigned to the National
Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
• Making the Central and State Governments responsible for spreading awareness on the provisions of the Bill
The above amendments to the JJ Bill were made after it was found that the provisions were discriminatory in nature on the grounds of Article 14 (right to equality), Article 21 (requiring that laws and procedures are fair and reasonable) and Article 20(1) (higher penalty for the same offence).
Key provisions of the JJ (Amendment) Bill, 2014
• The Bill replaces the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
• It addresses children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
• It permits juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years to be tried as adults for heinous offences.
• It provides for constitution of a Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) for every district for exercising the powers and discharging its functions relating to children in conflict with law.
• In case a heinous crime has been committed by a person in the age group of 16-18 years, the JJB will examine whether the crime was committed as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult’.
• The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) will determine institutional care for children in need of care and protection.
• It also proposes to streamline adoption procedures for orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children
• It establishes a statutory status for the Child Adoption Resources Authority (CARA).
• It proposes several rehabilitation and social integration measures for institutional and non-institutional children.
• It also provided for sponsorship and foster care as completely new measures.
• It provided for mandatory registration of all institutions engaged in providing child care.
• New offences including illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child care institutions, the use of children by militant groups, and offences against disabled children are also incorporated in the proposed legislation.
The Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 faced scrutiny after the 2012 Delhi gang rape in which a juvenile was found to be guilty, along with four adults. This new proposed Act provides that in case a heinous crime committed by a person in the age group of 16-18 years will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed as a child or as an adult.