Child Beggars and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 (PIB)

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act) is the primary law for children in the country.
  • A child who is found working in contravention of labour laws for the time being in force or is found begging, or living on the street is included as a “child in need of care and protection”, among others, under the JJ Act, 2015.
  • The Ministry implements a centrally sponsored scheme i.e. Child Protection Services (CPS) under the umbrella Integrated Child Development Services scheme, for supporting the children in difficult circumstances including child beggars and destitute children.
  • Under the scheme, institutional care is provided through Child Care Institutions (CCIs), as a rehabilitative measure.
  • The programmes and activities in CCIs inter-alia include age-appropriate education, access to vocational training, recreation, health care, counseling etc.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act)

  • The Act seeks to achieve the objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children as ratified by India in December 1992 and repeals the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
  • Who is a juvenile as recognised by law? In the Indian context, a juvenile or child is any person who is below the age of 18 years.  However, the Indian Penal Code specifies that a child cannot be charged for any crime until he has attained seven years of age. 

Key provisions

  • Change in nomenclature from ‘juvenile’ to ‘child’ or ‘child in conflict with law’, across the Act to remove the negative connotation associated with the word “juvenile”
  • The Act mandates setting up Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both must have at least one woman member each.
  • Special provisions for heinous offences committed by children above the age of sixteen years.
  • The Juvenile Justice Board is given the option to transfer cases of heinous offences by such children to a Children’s Court (Court of Session) after conducting preliminary assessment. 
  • To streamline adoption procedures for orphan, abandoned and surrendered children, the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.
  • As per the provisions, a single or divorced person can also adopt, but a single male cannot adopt a girl child.
  • Several new offences committed against children, which are so far not adequately covered under any other law, are included in the Act.

    These Include:
  1. sale and procurement of children for any purpose including illegal adoption,
  2. corporal punishment in child care institutions,
  3. use of child by militant groups,
  4. offences against disabled children and,
  5. kidnapping and abduction of children.
  • Penalties for cruelty against a child, offering a narcotic substance to a child, and abduction or selling a child have been prescribed.
  • Any official, who does not report an abandoned or orphaned child within 24 hours, is liable to imprisonment up to six months or fine of Rs 10,000 or both.
  • The penalty for non-registration of child care institutions is imprisonment up to one year or fine of one lakh rupees, or both.
  • •     Under Section 36 of the JJ Act, 2015 Child Welfare Committees are expected to submit quarterly reports to the District Magistrate regarding pendency and nature of disposal of cases.
  • The District Magistrate is expected to conduct quarterly review of the Child Welfare Committees and direct remedial measures to address the pendency.
  • Offences have been categorized as petty/ serious/ heinous offences.
  1. A heinous offence is an offence that attracts a minimum penalty of seven years imprisonment under any existing law,
  2. A serious offence is one that gets imprisonment between three to seven years and,
  3. A petty offence is penalized with up to three years imprisonment.
  • Children in the age group of 16 – 18 years may be tried as adults in cases of heinous offences after preliminary assessment by the Juvenile Justice Board.
  • The decision whether the child is to be released or sent to jail after attaining the age of 21 years will be taken by the Children‘s Court.

What does the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) say? What are the obligations on the signatory nations? 

  • The UNCRC was ratified by India in 1992 and the 2000 Act was consequently brought in to adhere to the standards set by the Convention. 
  • The UNCRC states that signatory countries should treat every child under the age of 18 years in the same manner and not try them as adults. 
  • While the 2000 Act complies with this requirement, the 2015 Act does not.  However, many other countries who have also ratified the Convention try juveniles as adults, in case of certain crimes.  These countries include the UK, France, Germany, etc. 
  • The United States is not a signatory to the UNCRC and also treats juveniles as adults in case of certain crimes. 

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2018

  • The government recently amended the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015, to empower District Magistrates with the authority to grant adoption orders.
  • It will make the adoption procedure faster for prospective parents, by avoiding delays in courts.
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2018, replaces the word “court” by “District Magistrate.”
  • The changes are applicable for both domestic and international applications.

Habeas Corpus

  • It means ‘to have the body of’.
  • It is an order issued by the court to a person who has detained another person, to produce the body of the latter before it.
  • The court then examines the cause and legality of detention.
  • It would set the detained person free, if the detention is found to be illegal.
  • It is a bulwark of individual liberty against arbitrary detention.
  • The writ of habeas corpus can be issued against both public authorities as well as private individuals.
  • The writ, on the other hand, is not issued where the:
  1. Detention is lawful;
  2. Proceeding is for contempt of a legislature or a court;
  3. Detention is by a competent court; and
  4. Detention is outside the jurisdiction of the court.

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