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Children in Conflict with Law


Children in Conflict with Law
Children in Conflict with Law

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Child

Section 2(12) of Juvenile Justice Act 2015 defines “Child” – means a person who has not completed eighteen years of age



Child in conflict with law

Section 2(13) “child in conflict with law” means a child who is alleged or found to have committed an offence and who has not completed eighteen years of age on the date of commission of such offence. 


Children in Conflict with Law, a term encompassing individuals below the age of 18 who have come into contact with the justice system due to alleged involvement in criminal activities, fall under the purview of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 in India. This legislation governs the treatment and rehabilitation of such children, prioritizing a child-friendly and comprehensive approach.


Central to this framework is the protection of their rights, ensuring they receive proper care, and facilitating their social reintegration. The Act underscores the importance of understanding the underlying causes of delinquency and implementing preventive measures to address the multifaceted challenges faced by children in conflict with the law. By adopting a holistic perspective, the aim is to provide support and guidance to these children, enabling them to overcome their circumstances and lead productive lives within society.


In the Indian context, the legal framework governing children in conflict with the law finds its cornerstone in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. This Act fundamentally acknowledges the innate potential of every child to mature and positively contribute to society.


Central to its ethos is the paramountcy of safeguarding, nurturing, and rehabilitating children who become ensnared in the justice system. Defined within the Act, the term "child in conflict with law" pertains to individuals below the age of 18 who stand accused or are found to have committed an offense.


Embracing a comprehensive outlook, the Act places a premium on the holistic well-being and growth of the child. It recognizes that certain behaviors leading to encounters with the law often manifest early in life and endeavors to tackle these issues by ensuring the provision of adequate care, protection, and avenues for social reintegration.


At the heart of this legal framework lies the Juvenile Justice Board, entrusted with the pivotal role of adjudicating matters concerning children in conflict with the law. The Board operates with a child-centric ethos, ensuring that its proceedings are conducted in a manner sensitive to the needs and rights of the child involved.

 
 

Kinds of Offences

The Juvenile Justice Act delineates offences committed by children into three primary categories, delineated by the severity of the crime:


Petty Offences: These infractions encompass acts for which the maximum punishment stipulated under the Indian Penal Code or any other pertinent law amounts to imprisonment of up to three years. Examples of such offences may include minor thefts or instances of vandalism.


Serious Offences: Serious offences encapsulate transgressions for which the prescribed punishment under the Indian Penal Code or other statutes ranges from imprisonment between three to seven years. This category may entail crimes such as assault or burglary, which carry substantial legal ramifications.


Heinous Offences: Heinous offences perpetrated by children encompass those for which the prescribed minimum punishment under the Indian Penal Code or other relevant laws is imprisonment for seven years or more. These grave transgressions may involve egregious crimes such as murder or sexual assault, necessitating stringent legal measures for adjudication.



Apprehension of child alleged to be in conflict with law

Section 10 deals with the apprehension of a child alleged to be in conflict with the law:


Placement under Juvenile Police Unit: Upon apprehension by the police, a child accused of being in conflict with the law shall be placed under the supervision of the special juvenile police unit or the designated child welfare police officer. This responsible authority is mandated to promptly produce the child before the Juvenile Justice Board without delay, ensuring this action occurs within twenty-four hours of the child's apprehension. This timeframe excludes the necessary time for transportation from the location of apprehension. Importantly, under no circumstances should a child alleged to be in conflict with the law be placed in a police lockup or lodged in a jail.


Rule-Making Authority of the State Government: The State Government is empowered to establish rules, in accordance with this Act, to:

  • Specify the individuals or entities, including registered voluntary or non-governmental organizations, through whom a child alleged to be in conflict with the law may be presented before the Juvenile Justice Board.

  • Outline the procedure for transferring a child alleged to be in conflict with the law to an observation home or place of safety, as deemed appropriate in each case.



Role of person in whose charge a child in conflict with law is placed

Section 11 outlines the responsibilities of the individual in whose care a child in conflict with the law is placed:


Any person tasked with the care of a child in conflict with the law shall assume responsibility for the child's well-being as if they were the child's parent and were accountable for their maintenance. This responsibility remains in effect as long as the order is valid.


However, even if the child is claimed by their parents or any other individual, the child will remain under the care of the designated person for the duration specified by the Juvenile Justice Board. This is unless the Board determines that the parents or another individual are suitable to take charge of the child.



Bail to a person who is apparently a child alleged to be in conflict with law

Section 12 deals with bail for a person who appears to be a child alleged to be in conflict with the law:


Release on Bail: If a person who appears to be a child and is alleged to have committed a bailable or non-bailable offense is apprehended by the police or brought before a Juvenile Justice Board, they shall be granted bail, with or without surety, or placed under the supervision of a probation officer or the care of a suitable person. However, bail shall not be granted if there are reasonable grounds to believe that their release may expose them to criminal association or moral, physical, or psychological danger, or if releasing them would undermine the administration of justice. The Board must record the reasons for denying bail and the circumstances leading to such a decision.


Placement in Observation Home: If the person is not granted bail by the police officer in charge of the police station, they shall be kept only in an observation home or a place of safety, as prescribed, until they can be brought before a Juvenile Justice Board.


Order by the Board: If the person is not granted bail by the Juvenile Justice Board, it shall issue an order sending them to an observation home or a place of safety for a specified period during the inquiry process.


Modification of Bail Conditions: If a child in conflict with the law is unable to meet the conditions of the bail order within seven days, they shall be brought before the Board for a modification of the bail conditions.



Information to parents, guardian or probation officer

Section 13 addresses the dissemination of information to parents, guardians, or probation officers regarding a child alleged to be in conflict with the law:


Immediate Notification: Upon apprehension of a child alleged to be in conflict with the law, the designated Child Welfare Police Officer or the special juvenile police unit shall promptly inform:

  • The parent or guardian of the child, if they can be located, and instruct them to attend the Juvenile Justice Board hearing.

  • The probation officer, or if unavailable, a Child Welfare Officer, for the preparation and submission of a social investigation report to the Board within two weeks. This report should contain details about the child's background, family history, and any other pertinent information to aid the Board in its inquiry.


Notification upon Bail Release: If the child is released on bail, the Board shall inform the probation officer or the Child Welfare Officer accordingly.

 
 



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