An overview of Juvenile Justice System

Indian has more than forty million children who need development in a conducive atmosphere, as the children are the most vulnerable; they are subject to vagaries of nature, become victims of war, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. A country that invests in  progress, protection and promotion of the interests of children at the right time has better future for its people, as children are the main stake holders for tomorrow. A number of legislations came to be passed for protection and promotion of the interests of children  since independence; the Children’s Act 1986, the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 which came to be replaced by present Juvenile Justice  Care and Protection  of Children act 2015 all the legislations refer the protection and promotion of children’s  interests.

The ICDS and ICPS are at the vanguard to secure the objectives of these acts.   Juveniles, endowed with certain faculties which are in the process of development, is a  term used for a particular age group varying across the globe. This is the period of life when not only rapid biological transactions are taking place but socially and psychologically an individual has altogether a different experiences, expectations and desires. Observations, because of their immaturity, experience and interactions reveal that people belonging to this age group like to be different from others, love to take risks, indulge in and violate established norms in the society; consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, they deviate from both legal and social norms which are technically known as juvenile delinquency or juvenile offending.

All the nations of the world are the stakeholders in this noble mission as envisaged in the charters, covenants of the United Nations, and constitutions of the countries of the world. If the children are rightly guided, trained, and equipped with best skills, values, wisdom, honesty, compassion  and brotherhood, it shall definitely ensure progressive, and nations. The need of the hour is to focus on the issues concerning children.

India has enshrined in the constitution under chapter IV the steps taken for the promotion and protection of the interests of children; the Govt.  passed special legislations for the same. We know the world came to  a grinding halt in the month of March 2020 in view of covid-19, but in spite of that the Hon’ble supreme court, in the month of April, took suo moto cognizance and passed orders upon the Ministry of Health, Women and Child Development to ensure proper health care of the inmates  in homes, child care institutions, address the concerns and issues of children in homes, shelter homes to mitigate their sufferings. We are all bound to secure the compliance of the beneficial legislations in letter and spirit in the interest of children.

We, in Jammu and Kashmir, are not far behind in striving to achieve the objectives of the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act 2015. The efforts of main stakeholders and of the Hon’ble High Court are commendable. People realised and perceived the efficacy of the Act, the sensitisation on the -ground level by the efforts of our Hon’ble High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, Directorate Office of Child Protection Services Establishment of Observation Homes in Jammu and Kashmir came to be to established. Children’s home in Budgam is the begening, and efforts are underway to establish in other areas as well. The present dispensation has greater responsibility, in view of covid 19, to secure the substantial compliance of the beneficial legislation regarding children in a transparent manner without any  hiccups.

There has been a growing concern about the need to extend care and protection to children who experience negligence, abuse, violence and exploitation in the society. There are different types of problems associated with the children such as child labour, child marriage, child trafficking, pornography, beggary, broken families, family tensions, emotional & psychological abuse, breakdown of social values and joint family system, drug abuse, abuse by parents or guardians, and pressure of peer groups. All this  needs a holistic approach from all stakeholders to address.

We know Indi is a signatory to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Therefore, the government of India enacted children’s act 1960, then went on to define and create the ‘Juvenile Justice Act 2000’. Jammu and Kashmir had its own juvenile justice Act 1997 that came to be replaced by the ‘Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice Act 2013. It has been more than fourteen years since the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice Act came into being.

With the enactment and enforcement of Reorganisation ACT 2019, the UT of  J&K is being run in accordance with Central Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act 2015 Act.

The Juvenile Justice System is designed to protect the interests of such children and respond to their demands, and concerns who by circumstances like poverty, negligence, lack of parenthood, family disputes, association of criminals and other aggravating factors commit crimes. They need to be dealt with differently than adult criminals, so that they could be restored with their families and in the society, with honour and dignity; the intent of the Act is social Reintegration, Restoration, Rehabilitation  and Reformation.

Considering the magnitude of the problem, and issues involved in it, the ministry of women and child development under the banner of ICPS in J&K has provided uninterrupted financial grants to secure the aims and objectives of the JJACT. Therefore all the units have to work in tandem to ensure smooth functioning of juvenile justice system in Jammu and Kashmir. The Chairperson Juvenile Justice Committee Hon’ble High Court has been keenly monitoring the functioning of the juvenile justice system in Jammu and Kashmir, and has played an important role in the implementation of the Act.

The Juvenile Justice Act makes every stakeholder accountable from parents to police, from school to social institutions (family), government or NGOs, shelter homes, special homes and observation homes. The beneficiary of all these efforts are children, thus the need of the hour is sensitization of all the institutions.

Authors are associated with the Juvenile Justice System, Government of J&K UT, ICPS, Department of Social Welfare. Views are personnel.