This article is written by Priyanka Choudhary, currently pursuing BALLB from Mody University of Science and Technology, Lakshmangarh, Rajasthan. This article deals with the comparison of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 of India in contrast with the USA, UK, and Canada Juvenile Justice System.
To replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and therefore the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) of 2000, The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act was introduced and passed in Parliament in 2015. One of the main provisions of the new Act was that it treated the juveniles of the age group of 16-18 years as adults who were in conflict with the law and allowed their trials, in cases where the crimes were to be determined. It is determined by a Juvenile Justice Board, that what should be the nature of the crime and whether the juvenile should be tried as a minor or a child. This provision received a push after the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case in which one of the accused was just short of 18 years, and was therefore tried as a juvenile.
How does Juvenile Justice Work in India
“The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015”, defines the process or the legal framework in which juveniles between the age of 16 to 18 years in India, can appear before a judge.
USA Juvenile Justice System
The American Juvenile Justice System is the primary method to handle minors who are below 18 years and have committed criminal offenses or crimes. The federal “Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act” (JJDPA) which was established in 1974 and last reauthorized in 2002, provides crucial support to the state programs that assist communities to take a comprehensive approach to prevent the crimes or offenses done by juveniles and to quickly and effectively address the needs of vulnerable youth and their families.
UK Juvenile Justice System
“The Youth Justice System in England and Wales” provides for the processes that are used to prosecute, convict and punish the ones who are below the age of 18 years and who have committed criminal crimes or offenses. The main aim of the Youth Justice System is to prevent the children and young people from committing the crime.
Canada Juvenile Justice System
“The Youth Criminal Justice Act” (YCJA) of Canada provides for the rights of young people from the age of 12 to 17 years and who are being charged with a crime or offense. A child under 12 years of age cannot be charged with a crime and a person of 18 years of age is considered an adult in the court.
Comparative Analysis with the Laws of USA, UK and Canada
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, governs the Indian Juvenile System.
- The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), 1974, governs the American Juvenile Justice System.
- The Youth Justice System in England and Wales, governs the UK Juvenile Justice System.
- The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), governs the Canadian Juvenile Justice System.
- India: In India, the law defines a juvenile as a person who is under the age of 16, according to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
- United States of America: In USA, some of the state statutes allow for juveniles as young as age 7 years old to be held responsible for some law violations.
- United Kingdom: In UK, the ones who are below the age of 18 years and have committed criminal crimes or offenses, can be prosecuted, convicted, and punished.
- Canada: A child under 12 years of age cannot be charged with a crime and a person of 18 years of age is considered an adult in the court. So between the age of 12 to 17 a juvenile can be charged with a crime or offense.
- India: Under this Act, children are not to be taken to a regular criminal court. The main aim of a separate court is socio-legal rehabilitation and reformation, not punishment. The aim is to hold a child culpable for their criminal activity, not through punishment, but by counseling the child to understand their actions and persuade them away from criminal activities in the future. The Juvenile Justice Act consists of a Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate of the first class and two social workers, at least one of whom must be a woman. Juvenile Justice Act is meant to resolve cases within four months.
- USA: Youth courts are programs in which youth punish their peers for petty offender and status crimes and other problem behaviors. The primary function of most youth court programs is to determine a fair and restorative sentence or disposition for the youth respondent.
- UK: When a young person commits a grave crime or offense, they can be sent to the youth court. Other than murder and manslaughter, youth courts deal with all serious crimes committed by young persons. The process depends on the age of the child or young person: Most young people in the Youth Court are between the age of 14-17 years old, however, 12 and 13-year-olds are included if they are charged with particularly serious offenses. But after the 1st of July of 2019, the Youth Court started including 17-year-olds who have been charged with an offense. If the charge is particularly serious then the young person would have to appear firstly in the youth court and then the case will be transferred to the District Court.
- Canada: Special considerations are taken when young people commit criminal acts. The YCJA applies to children between the age of 12 to 17 years, who get into trouble with the law. The YCJA says that young individuals should be held accountable for their criminal acts, although not in the same way or to the same extent as adults. It is in society’s interest to ensure that as many young offenders as possible should be rehabilitated and become productive members of society in the future. However, in most cases, judges impose one of the youth sentencing options in the YCJA. Moreover, in very serious cases, the court does have the power to impose an adult sentence. However, if an adult sentence is imposed on the young person, then the Criminal Code penalties applied to the adult offenders will be applied to them. This can include mandatory minimum penalties and sentences up to life imprisonment. However, a young person cannot serve any part of a sentence in an adult prison before the age of 18.
The JJ Act of 2015 is modern and progressive legislation that intends to bring change and restore the juveniles, this legislation brings forth a whole set of guidelines that are also open to abuse. While undertaking the work of comparison between all the four legislations of the countries many different things were found out.
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