General Studies Paper 2 (Social Justice)
Question:- 23. Put some light on the juvenile justice system in India. Has the system adequately evolved with the demands of time? Justify. Answer in 250 words.
Jul 25, 2022


Juvenile delinquency refers to the involvement of minors in illegal activities and crimes. When the actions of a juvenile prove to be dangerous towards the normal course of the functioning of society, that person may be referred to as a juvenile delinquent. Juvenile Justice System is the most progressive and enlightened system adopted by the world citizenry with all round growth of children. The prime focus is to reform the deviants and provide care to the unprotected child.

In India, a person below the age of 18 years is considered a juvenile. The Juvenile Justice System in India has kept pace with the needs of time. The following provisions have been made in this regard:



  1. 1. After the independence of India, the constitution provided some provisions under the fundamental rights and Directive principles of state policy to protect and develop children.
  2. 2. Children Act, 1960: This act prohibited the imprisonment of children in any circumstances and provided care, welfare, training, education, maintenance, protection, and rehabilitation.
  3. 3. Juvenile Justice Act, 1986: The Juvenile justice act 1986 came into force to provide uniformity of the Children Act and set the standard for protection of juveniles as per the 1959 United Nations declaration of the child. (In 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.)
  4. 4. Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000: It had much better terminology such as ‘conflict with the law’ and ‘need care and protection’. Juveniles who have a conflict with law are handled by the juvenile justice board and juveniles who need care and protection are handled by the child welfare committee.
  5. 5. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the 2021 amendment: It received impetus after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape in which one of the accused was just short of 18 years, and was therefore tried as a juvenile. It allowed the trial of juveniles in conflict with law in the age group of 16-18 years as adults, in cases where the crimes were to be determined. The nature of the crime, and whether the juvenile should be tried as a minor or a child, was to be determined by a Juvenile Justice Board. The Act streamlined adoption procedures for orphans, abandoned and surrendered children and the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.



As seen above, the juvenile justice system in India has adequately evolved with the demands of time. However, some issues still remain. The Juvenile Justice System developed throughout the world with a conception that children are not mature like adults.

  1. 1. Although the system does provide with legal solutions from time to time but it fails to address the root cause of juvenile delinquency.
  2. 2. Term of sentence: There is no logical or scientific reason which shows that total and complete rehabilitation can be achieved by a child in conflict with the law within a maximum period of three years.
  3. 3. Post completion of term and aftercare: Absolute lack of implementation of the provisions of the JJ Act after a juvenile completes his sentence is a major concern. India’s massive population makes it impossible to track and ensure that a juvenile once released continues with his therapy or even reports regularly to his parole officer.
  4. 4. Juveniles in Adult jails: National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a number of probable juveniles are found in adult jails. Further, the police subvert the guidelines of JJ Act and lodge juveniles into adult jails.



In the long run, child guidance clinics should be established in order to give appropriate treatment to the disturbed and mal-adjusted children. Social environment that includes slum areas, busy market places, gambling centres, etc., should be improved. Factors like personality, family, substance abuse, peer relationships etc. can induce delinquency in any minor, given his/her vulnerable nature. Hence, issues have to be addressed on a societal basis – child labor, drug abuse, economic status and poverty conditions, modern life-style and living styles need to be focused upon. Children and teenagers are having difficulty adapting to today’s fast-changing societal patterns, cultures, and lifestyles. They are confronted with cultural issues and are unable to distinguish between good and wrong. At this age, adolescents seek freedom and independence and want to explore new things, but are not provided with chances or opportunities by their parents, teachers, or elders, which contributes to the overall development of introverted conduct. Being mindful of the dangerous trends of increasing aggression levels among children, our curriculum needs to heavily emphasise on the values of kindness, respect and empathy. Moreover, community involvement needs to become a crucial facet of our curriculum.