This article is written by Sambavi Marwah, a fourth-year law student, from Delhi Metropolitan Education, GGISPU.


This article explains the main differences between the laws made for the juvenile and the adult. It emphasizes on the legal system dealing with both the age groups of the country and how they are treated by the laws or legislations laid down. 

Who is a Juvenile?

A child is said to be the country’s future. The age between 0 to 18 years is the period in which children grow and learn about life. They are full of positive energy, zeal and skills, which guide them towards a bright future for themselves, as well as the nation. Thus it is the duty of the nation to protect the children and provide them with extra care under 

As per the Indian law, a juvenile is any person who is below eighteen years of age. However, the Indian Penal Code states that a child of seven years of age and below cannot be tried in the court of law.
There are various legislations which provide an umbrella to the juveniles to protect and guide them to leave the path of criminal activities. Laws such as:

  • Article 15 (3), 21A, 24, 39, 39 (e) and 47 of The Indian Constitution protect the children from various illegal practices or traditions.
  • Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 (with amendments) 

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

After the incidence of the “Delhi Gang Rape case, 2012”, a few amendments were made to the juvenile legal system, which led to the introduction of The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Act in the year 2015. The Juvenile Justice Act came into force on 15th January 2016, thus replacing the acts of 2000 and 2006.

The said act introduced various new provisions in the area of care and protection of children who are involved in unlawful activities.
It aims to adjudicate the cases by keeping in mind all the possible solutions to guide the juvenile towards a crime-free world.  

Prime Amendments Made

  • Children between 16 to 18 years of age can be tried as adults if a heinous crime like rape, murder, etc. is involved, only after the approval of the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB). 
  • Penalties for committing offences such as buying or selling of the children, any kind of cruelty against them or kidnapping of children have been introduced by the said act. 
  • Opening and registration of various rehabilitation centres or child care institutions in all the states to safeguard the children and provide them with good education and skills to live a normal life. 

Who is an Adult?

A person who attains the age of 18 years of age is known as an adult in the eyes of law. He or she attains the legal age of majority and is thus bound by various laws of the country.
When a person attains the age of majority, he/she can apply for a driving license, vote to elect their choice of government, enter into a contract with another person and so on.

Laws for the Adult

The Indian Constitution being the supreme law of the country provides the citizens with certain fundamental rights to enjoy and fundamental duties to abide by. Like we know all the citizens are equal in the eyes of the law, so no person can be discriminated on the basis of caste, sex, creed or age. 

Laws such as:

  • Indian Penal Code, 1860
  • Indian Contract Act, 1872
  • Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  • Motor Vehicle Act, 1988
  • Sales of Goods Act, 1930, etc. are few of the examples of those legislations which make it mandate for a person to attain the age of majority, or become an adult before entering into a contract with the other party. 

Though a minor can also be a part of a contract or any transaction, but it is followed by certain restrictions which the minor and his guardian have to follow in a strict sense. 

Therefore, an adult has the obligation to abide by all the rules, laws and regulations set by the nation in order to prevent the happening of crimes or any illegal activities and promote harmony, security and peace around the globe. 

Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal System

The key difference between a juvenile and an adult is the age group. Juvenile is the one who is below the age of 18, while an adult is the one who falls in the age group of 18 and above. 


  • Juveniles are tried in the juvenile court system, while the adults are tried in the normal court systems such as the district court, session’s court, etc. After the Nirbhaya case, if a child of 16 to 18 years of age commits a serious offence, in that case, he or she can be tried as an adult in the Indian legal system.
  • The crimes committed by the juvenile are known as ‘Delinquent acts’ instead of ‘crimes’, which is used in the case of an adult.
  • Juveniles get the bonus of extra care and protection in the juvenile court system, whereas no such advantage is given to an adult.
  • The juvenile court system is informal as compared to the courts in the adult criminal system as the children are in their tender age and are still growing and learning the difference between right and wrong.  
  • Last but not the least, while giving the decision in the matter of a juvenile, a judge has to act in the best interest of the juvenile and must follow certain guidelines and rules which are easy on him/her. 


India’s constitution is known to be one of the best constitutions of the world. It protects all the citizens, despite their gender, caste or creed. Our legal system not only guarantees equal treatment to all the people, but also assures that all the individuals get justice in the court of law. It is essential for every law system to keep a close check on the activities of the juveniles as well because of the increasing rate in the number of crimes committed by the teens.
In India, juveniles get separate treatment in respect to the treatment given to the adults as they are in their growing age, where they are yet to learn the difference between right and wrong and explore a lot of things about life.
Hence, it gives a second chance to the children to learn from their mistakes and grow up as a better individual as nobody is born a criminal. 

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