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HISTORY OF JUVENILE JUSTICE IN INDIA

The term juvenile justice emerged from the word Juvenis, in latin it means Young so a justice
system for the young. Historically the concept of juvenile justice was derived from a belief that
the problems of juvenile delinquency in abnormal situations are not amenable to the resolution
within the framework of traditional process of criminal law.1 Over the time a need felt in
ensuring that juvenile justice system beside catering the needs of young offenders only it also
provide specialized and preventive treatment services like community support, harmonizing
impersonal state intervention with the family, community and institutional interventions for the
children and as a means of prevention, rehabilitation and socialization through schools and
religious bodies.2
During the British Rule certain laws were enacted to address the issue of juvenile delinquency
and child welfare. laws like Whipping Act of 1864 was passed to punish the juvenile through
whipping and then setting him free so that he should not repeat the same act, it was to deter the
child against committing crime. The Indian Penal code Act 1860 and criminal procedure code
1861 treating child differently through various procedures. Act XIX of 1850, 1876 reformatory
schools act, the Borstal School Act, Childrens act of 1920, and other state specific legislations
like Bengal childrens Act, Madras childrens Act to address neglected and deviant childrens
these laws gave delinquents some special provisions regarding their Institutionalization and
rehabilitation.3

1 Ved kumari, The Juvenile Justice in India: from welfare to rights, New Delhi: OUP.
p1
2 working paper juvenile justice: before and after the onset of juvenile
delinquency made by the secretariat of sixth United Nations congress on
prevention of crime and treatment of offenders, caracas, Venezuela 25 to 29
August 1980. Agenda Item 4, 1980, A/CONF.87/5/Rev.1, p62-63
3 Sen, Satadru. (2004), A separate punishment: Juvenile offenders in colonial India,
Association of Asian studies, 63(1), 81-104

Colonial masters dealt with the problem of delinquents, through the laws of Reformatory schools
and Borstal School Act to reform and rehabilitate juvenile delinquents. Although there were state
laws the childrens Act but postIndependence a central law The Juvenile Justice Act 1986 was
introduced for a uniform system, procedure and personnel in the domain of juvenile justice
throughout the country, in this Act the age of male juvenile was kept at sixteen years while the
girl age was kept at eighteen years. 4 These cut off age were chosen because in the children Act
1960 where the age was sixteen years and also the children bill of 1953 which defined children
as below sixteen years also because of the Bombay children Act of 1948 which was one of the
model legislation.
As this law was passed prior to the UNCRC 1989 which India ratified in 1992. 5 In 2000 the
former law was repealed and a new law which was more exhaustive and one of the best law was
enacted The Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act 2000 but the age was kept at
16 only later it was Amended in 2006 to increase the age of the child which increased to 18 years
to adhere the International ratified laws.
The juvenile justice is one of the step taken by the state so as to attain constitutional vision of
India pertaining care and welfare of children. The provisions of constitution which grants the
special status to the children Article 15(3), 24, 39(e) & (f) and 45, National policy for children
1974, 2013, declare that children are national asset. Further through constitutional directions
many other laws and statutory provisions have been enacted to protect the rights of children like
RTE 2009, child labor prohibition act 1986, JJ act 1986, later JJ(C&P) Act 2000.

Juvenile Justice in India


Historical development of juvenile justice in India can be divided into six phases through
reference of treatment of children, legislative developments, judicial Intervention and other
government policies. Prior to 1773, 1773-1850, 1850-1950, 1950-2000, 2001-20106
4 section 2(h) Juvenile Justice Act, 1986.
5 http://www.unicef.org/crc
6 Kethineni Sesha & Braithwaite Jeremy, towards a compliance model: The Indian
Supreme Court and the Attempted Revolution in Child Rights

Year 1773 was a benchmark in the Indian legal system as Regulating Act of 1773 granted East
India company the power to make and enforce laws, the Charter Act of 1833 changed
commercialization of company into a governing body. Between 1773 -1850 many committees
were established focusing on childrens in jails, first law was made in 1850 to keep juveniles out
of jails later the Report on All India Jail committee 1919-1920 segregated children from criminal
justice system.

Status of Juveniles prior to 1773


Both Hindu law (Manusmriti) and Islamic law (Sharia) prescribes for maintenance and proper
upbringing of the children and it was the sole responsibility of parents to provide care and
protection to the children and if the families were unable then someone from the community took
care of the children. According to Islamic law if anyone finds the abandoned child and feels that
child would be harmed then he must take care of the child (Ved kumari 2004). Study of
Manusmriti and sharia shows different punishment for the children in certain offences 7 like under
Hindu law if a child is found throwing filth on the public road he has to clean the place while an
adult has to pay the fine.8 While in Muslim law, there is a specific Injunction which forbids
execution of children.9 Provisions in the traditional texts shows the children were treated
separately from that adults, wanting special care for their survival and they were not fully
responsible for their actions. So the Indian culture historically treated child as a child in need of
care and protection such that if he has committed any wrong he was treated not as per the adults
law.

Status of Juveniles from1773-1849

7 kumari, Ved The Juvenile Justice in India: from welfare to rights, New Delhi: OUP.
p57
8 Muller, M.F. (1886). The laws of Manu. oxford: clarendon press
9 Unnithan, N. Prabha (edited. 2013). Crime and Justice in India; ch.13, Kethineni
Sesha & Braithwaite Jeremy, towards a compliance model: The Indian Supreme
Court and the Attempted Revolution in Child Rights. New Delhi; sage publication,
p.306

As during this period India was prominently dominated by East India Company which started as
a trading company in 1608. After the company failed the government of Britain took over under
the Governor General and this was the period when the reform momentum was gaining a pace
which also affected India. Colonial exploitation ruined the agrarian economy forcing deprived
class to live in slums in the city outskirts. This increased destitution and delinquency among
children.10 Welfare mechanism for the children took different forms. Krishna Chandra Ghoshal
and Jai Narayan Ghoshal approached to Lord the then Governor General for establishing the
home for destitute juveniles in major trading city of Calcutta. The first Ragged School for
vagrant and orphan children was established in 1843 in Bombay now its known as David Sasson
Industrial School (Ved Kumari, 2004). The objective was to reform the child delinquents who
were arrested by the police this was done by encouraging them to work through apprenticeship
and Industrial Training which prepared the base for passing the Apprentices Act 1850.

Period from 1850-1919


This period saw passing of specific legislations concerning children, first law which provided a
special status for juveniles was the Apprentices Act 1850 (Clayton Hartjen & Sesha Kethineni,
1996), children who were vagrants of committed petty offences in age group of 10-18 years were
made to undergo their sentence as apprentices. The objective of the law was to channelize the
energy of the children and deviate them from criminal influence and make them work so that
after reaching majority they could earn a living.11 Later the Indian Penal Code 1860 which fixed
the age limitations for criminal culpability doli Incapax and doli capax under section 82&83 of
IPC which provided protection to children from criminal prosecution until they have developed
cognitive faculties to understand the nature of their actions. The code of criminal procedure
1861/1898 in three sections 298, 399 &562 prescribed for separate trial for the persons below the
age of 15 years and required that they should be confined in reformatories rather than in adult

10 Chatterjee, G. The Reformation of Neglected and Delinquent Children in British


Raj: An Historical overview, p.2, Material for National Workshop on Neglected
children; by Prayas,Shramik Vidyapeeth and Delhi school of social work, New Delhi,
19-20 june 1992 (hereafter Prayas Workshop).
11 Mukundan, K.P . (2008). Study of the status of the justice delivery system for
juveniles in conflict with law in Maharastra . Mumbai: Tiss

prisons (Clayton Hartjen 1996) this changed the philosophy of penalizing from punishment to
reformation.
As prison reports constantly pointed towards the change in policy and administration, noticing
high rate of perpetrators and increase of juvenile offenders in especially in Poona where the
number went up drastically from one to sixty five between 1860-1861 so as to reduce the reduce
the number the government passed Whipping Act of 1864 aiming that whipping for certain class
of offences by young delinquents will have a deterrent effect, and government will not have to
Invest on establishing the reformatories for the juveniles as juvenile delinquency got politicized
such that some were in favor of corporal punishment and some were on rehabilitation and lastly
corporal was chosen as it was viable in terms of economic conditions.12
Between 1872 to 1875, the Poona juvenile prison was running smoothly and satisfactorily in
terms of health and conduct of the juvenile offenders as they were provided mechanical and
scholastic education and other after care facilities while at other places the proportion of
juveniles to the total imprisoned was increasing so segregation of them became a necessity.13
This different treatment of juveniles was strengthened by The Reformatory schools Act 1876,
189714 which provided that boys under the age of fifteen who were imprisoned or transported
should be placed in the reformatories. The period of incarceration was specified to be not less
than three years and not be more than seven years (Clayton Hartjen & Sesha Kethineni, 1996).
The second Reformatory Schools Act of 1897 dealt specifically with the treatment and
Rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents in the age group of seven and fifteen years but it didnt
established such places for girls (Sesha Kethineni & Jeremy Braithwaite, 2013).Children of the
criminal tribes received special attention after the enactment of criminal tribes (amendment) Act
1897. It provided for establishing agricultural and reformatory schools for the children of
criminal tribe members in age group of four to eighteen years (Ved Kumari, 2004). The Code of
12 Sen, Satadru. (2004), A separate punishment: Juvenile offenders in colonial India,
Association of Asian studies, 63(1), 81-104
13 kumari, Ved The Juvenile Justice in India: from welfare to rights, New Delhi: OUP.
p63
14 Saibaba, Anuradha , Juvenile Justice: critically Juxtaposing the models in India
and Singapore (working paper series No. 28) september 2012, Asian Law Institute.

criminal procedure of 1898 extended imprisonment at the reformatory schools for the juveniles
until they complete the age of eighteen years, and then prescribed that they be placed on
probation till they are twenty one.15

Period from 1919-1950


The Indian Jail committee was established in 1919-1920, which urged to the British government
for establishing separate institutions and to have separate trials for the juveniles (Biranchi
Narayan Mishra, 1991) also Juveniles should compulsorily be given bail in most cases and their
reformation and rehabilitation should be the motive of the law. (Tapan Chakraborty, 2002). Also
the league of Nations Declaration instigated Madras (1920), Bengal (1922), and Bombay (1924)
in enacting the Children Acts (Sesha Kethineni & Jeremy Braithwaite, 2013) and later the Delhi
children Act, 1941, Mysore children Act, 1943, The Travancore children Act 1945, The Coachin
children Act, 1946, and the East Punjab children Act, 1946 (Ved Kumari, 2004). Although
Bengal childrens Act was passed later but it has juvenile court from 1914 onwards. Madras
childrens act was the first delinquency law in India, it did not used the term delinquent instead
defined child as anyone under the age of fourteen years, a young person from fourteen to
eighteen years and an youthful offender under the age of eighteen years who has been
convicted of offence mentioned in Indian Penal code or any other special or local laws for which
an offender can be incarcerated16 One of the important law pertaining to the street or vagabond
children The Vagrancy Act 1943 which provided for care and training to children below fourteen
years living on begging or lacked proper guardianship had parents who were involved in criminal
habits and drinking, visiting prostitutes or were destitute.17

1950-2000

15 Chakraborty, Tapan. (2002). Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice System in


India. In the Juvenile Justice Systems: International Perspectives (edited.), John A.
Winterdyk 2nd ed., Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.
16 Hartjen, A. Clayton & Kethineni, Sesha (1996). Comparative Delinquency India
and the United States, New York & London: Garland Publishing, P 36.
17 The Bengal Vagrancy Act, 1943 [25th October 1943]

By 1960 many states had established separate systems and laws for juveniles which varied in
terms of definitions, and other procedural requirements and their implementation also varied. In
1960 Union government enacted The children Act 1960, which was applicable to union territories
which were directly administered by the Union government. It was intended to serve as a model
for the state legislations which did a groundwork for the National law passed as Juvenile Justice
Act 1986 acted as uniform law throughout the country. Apex court Judgment in Sheela Barse
played a crucial role in passing the uniform law on juvenile justice where it acknowledged that
the children in the jails are entitled to special treatment and recommended that parliament should
make a uniform law applicable throughout the country.18 Parliament invoked its power under
Article 253 of constitution of India in making the juvenile justice system in India to conform the
United Nations standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing
Rules 1985) to abide the International Obligation which India agreed by ratifying in 1985.
For the first time the law mandated care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of
neglected and delinquent juveniles and for adjudication and disposition of juvenile delinquency
matters throughout country.19 The act formulated separated procedures for the juvenile
delinquents and neglected juveniles, by establishing separate juvenile courts and juvenile welfare
boards. Juvenile courts handled the offences committed by girls under the age of eighteen years
and sixteen years for the boys accused of committing crime.20
Under the 1986 law, juvenile delinquents are persons below specified ages who committed
certain acts that would be treated as crimes if committed by adults. Those juveniles would be
processed through special courts following due process rules applied to adult offenders with
exception that these proceedings are private and confidential and as far as possible be nonjudicial in nature. The delinquents who are convicted could be fined or placed under supervision
for a maximum of three years but they cannot be executed or imprisoned or jailed.

2000-2015
18 Sheela Barse & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors. 1986 AIR 1773 ORS.
19 The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986.
20 Ibid

The Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act 2000 was passed in December 2000
and came in force on April 1, 2001 and was amended in 2006 aiming to protect, care, rehabilitate
and educate the juvenile and to provide them with vocational training opportunities. As the
Preamble clearly states that the object of the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law is
providing proper care, protection and treatment by catering to their development needs and by
adopting a child friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best
interest of children and for their ultimate rehabilitation through institutions established under
this law.21
The law underlines a welfare approach by inclusion of non-criminal justice language (arrest is
replaced by apprehension, act does not speak about Jail, court, police, trial), Age of juvenile in
conflict with law made same for both boys and girls as eighteen years after the country ratified
United Nation convention on child rights which mandates the age of criminality as eighteen
years, more emphasis on rehabilitation, re-socialization and reintegration of juvenile in conflict
with law rather than punishment, placing minimal intervention of the correctional authorities and
police as the special provision for special juvenile police to handle the cases in inquiry and
replacing juvenile courts by Juvenile Justice Boards so as to make more child friendly in
adjudication. The Law specifically mandates for the Rehabilitation and social re-integration,
after acre services process, special provisions for adoption and sponsorship for mainstreaming
them into society.
The new law also emphasized on the involvement of voluntary organizations and urged for their
participation in the process of juvenile justice through running the Observation homes, special
homes, compiling social investigation reports.22 There is no such provision of death sentence in
the law and juvenile cannot be sent to prison if unable to pay the fine and establishing separate
homes for different age groups in order to separate younger offenders from mature juveniles so
that the system could meet the requirements of the Beijing Rules on Administration of Justice.
After the tragic Delhi Gang Rape of December 16, 2012 where a juvenile was involved with
other adult offenders in raping and torturing due to which the victim died, the issue raised a
21 Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act 2000
22 ibid

debate on reduction of age of Juvenile in conflict with law as debated that juvenile offenders are
increasing. Later a committee headed by Justice Verma was established for amending the laws in
criminal law to protect the rights of women but the committee refused to reduce the age of
juvenile and said that the time is not ripe for reduction and one case cannot be the reason for
changing the law.
Subramaniam swamy later filed a petition on reducing the age of criminality which again Apex
court quashed with specific reasons which this paper will discuss in next chapter but the base
was prepared after the rage and anger in the public sphere which led to coming of the Bill on The
Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) bill 2014. Although the bill is well equipped
with protection mechanisms for the child in conflict with law (earlier juvenile in conflict with
law) but the law has distinguished the offences for which the a child can be sentenced like Adult
offenders.

Juvenile Justice System in India


The state guarantees special treatment to
them through statutory law. However, in
practice, they often get victimized by legal
and procedural entanglements
The emergence of the concept of juvenile justice in India owes much to the developments
that have taken place in western countries, especially in the perception of children and
human rights jurisprudence in Europe and America. The Apprentices Act, 1850 was the first
legislation that laid the foundation of juvenile justice system in the country. The concept
consequently gained momentum with the enactment of the Indian Penal Code (1860),
Reformatory Schools Act (1897), Code of Criminal Procedure (1898) and recommendations

made by the Indian Jail Committee (1919-1920), which categorically mentioned that the
child offender should be treated differently from an adult offender. It also held that
imprisonment of child offenders should be prohibited and recommended for provision of
reformatory schools and constitution of childrens courts with procedures as informal and
elastic as possible. The Committee also drew attention to the desirability of making
provisions and special enactment for children who had not committed crime so far, but could
do so in the near future on account of living in criminal or inhuman surroundings or those
without proper guardians or homes.
The Madras Children Act 1920 was the first Children Act to be enacted, closely followed by
Bengal and Bombay in 1922 and 1924, respectively. Later, many more states enacted their
own Children Acts, covering within their sphere two categories of children, viz., (i)
delinquent children, and (ii) destitute and neglected children. Both these categories of
children were to be handled by the juvenile courts. They were to be kept in remand homes
and certified schools or released on probation, with a possibility of imprisonment when the
nature of offence was serious and the character of the offender so depraved as to justify
imprisonment (Ved Kumari: 2004). During this period, by and large, the welfare approach
was adopted for children whether delinquent, destitute or neglected.
Development of Juvenile Justice System in India
Independence ushered in a new era for children in the country. The Constitution of India
took care of survival, development and protection needs of children by making relevant
provisions in Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy.

Children Act 1960


The special status accorded to children in the Constitution and the fact that there was a
substantial growth in the number of destitute, neglected and delinquent children in the wake
of partition, saw some special programmes being taken up to meet the needs of this group
of children during the First Five-Year Plan. Industrialization coupled with urbanization further
brought forth its own set of problems for children. One of them was increase in cases of
juvenile delinquency in large cities, the most common offence being theft. As legislation for
dealing with delinquent children existed only in few states, the Government of India enacted
the Children Act 1960. The Act, however, was applicable only to the Union Territories as it
was a model to be followed by the states in the enactment of their respective Children Acts.

The 1960 Children Act, provided for the care, protection, maintenance, welfare, training,
education and rehabilitation of neglected and delinquent children. For the first time in India,
the Children Act prohibited the imprisonment of children under any circumstance. It
provided for separate adjudicatory bodies a children court and a child welfare board - to
deal with delinquent and neglected children. The Act also introduced a system of three-tier
institutions, namely, an observation home for receiving children during the pendency of their
proceedings, a childrens home for accommodating neglected children, and a special school
for delinquent children. It, however, introduced a sex discriminatory definition of child.Child

in case of a boy was one who was below 16 years and in case of a girl below 18
years of age. All states subsequently enacted similar, but not exactly the same Children
Acts. The definition of the term child differed from state to state. As a result, delinquent and
neglected children were subjected to differential treatment emanating from the diverse
conceptions of child and childhood.

Juvenile Justice Act 1986


The need for a uniform Children Act across the country paved the way for the enactment of
the 1986 Juvenile Justice Act (JJA). It promoted the best interest of the juveniles by
incorporating into its fold not only the major provisions and clauses of the Indian
Constitution and the 1974 National Policy Resolution for Children but also the universally
agreed principles and standards for the protection of juveniles such as the 1959 United
Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the 1985 United Nations Standard
Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules). The JJA overruled
imprisonment of juveniles in police lock-up or jail. Other than this, it stipulated two main
authorities a juvenile welfare board and a juvenile court to deal with neglected and
delinquent juveniles. It also stipulated establishment of various kinds of institutions for the
care of juveniles a juvenile home for the reception of neglected juveniles, a special home
for the reception of delinquent juveniles, an observation home for the temporary reception
of juveniles during the pendency of any inquiry regarding them, and an after-care home for
the purpose of taking care of juveniles after they were discharged from a juvenile home or a
special home. It further guaranteed a wide range of dispositional alternatives with
preference for family or community-based placement, and a vigorous involvement of
voluntary agencies at various stages of the juvenile justice process. The basic ideology for
adopting this differential approach was to save children from devastating ill-effects of
criminalization, penalization and stigmatization. With the enactment of the JJA, the
welfare approach gave way to the justice paradigm (Maharukh Adenwalla: 2006).
But the implementation of the JJA had many loopholes in terms of age determination,
separate trials, court proceedings, notification of charges to parents or guardians, filing of
reports by probation officers, reasons for and length of confinement, rehabilitation and after
care of juveniles. The juveniles were often not provided with a copy of the rules governing
their detention and the written description of their rights. Many juveniles housed in
institutions run by the government did not know the purpose of their stay and the future of
their institutionalization. Like the 1960 Children Act, the JJA too promoted a sex
discriminatory definition of a juvenile. Moreover, most of the states and union territories
who had formulated their Rules for the implementation of the JJA were devoid of the basic
infrastructure consisting of juvenile welfare boards, juvenile courts, observation homes,
juvenile homes, special homes and after care homes. They had also not taken up the
required measures for observance of minimum standards for institutional care or for the
advancement of non-institutional care, such as foster care, sponsorship, adoption, etc. The
chasm between reality and the application of the law was felt all the more with the adoption
of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its ratification by the
Government of India in 1992. The provisions of the CRC with regard to children in conflict
with law were amplified in two other United Nations instruments - the United Nations
Guidelines for the Administration of Juvenile Delinquency (Riyadh Guidelines) and the United
Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (JDL Rules). Both

provide detailed directions about the processes to be followed by the juvenile justice system
in dealing with persons below the age of 18. The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights
in Vienna and the successive adoption of Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which
urged States to ratify and implement promptly the CRC too made a definitive impact on all
those concerned with the plight of these children in India including the government.
Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act 2000

Taking a cue from all these developments, the government recast the JJA so that it could be
in consonance with the CRC and brought in a new Act, the 2000 Juvenile Justice (Care &
Protection of Children) Act. The passing of this Act endorsed the justice as well as the
rights approach towards children and moreover made use of a better terminology by
providing for juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection. It
calls for keeping both the categories separate pending their inquiries. This segregation aims
to curb the bad influence on the child who is in need of care and protection from the one
who is in conflict with law. The JJA 2000 brings about standardization in the definition of a
juvenile or a child across the country except for Jammu and Kashmir. A juvenile or child
is a person who has not completed eighteenth year of age. Juveniles in conflict with law
include all those children alleged to or found to have committed an offence. They are to be
handled by the juvenile justice board. Children in need of care and protection cover a range
of at risk children to be dealt by child welfare committee. While dealing with juveniles and
children, it gave importance to their respective families for tendering of advice and
counselling. It furthermore introduced a wide range of community placement options for
juveniles and children. The 2000 Act, though passed with good intentions, overlooked the
inclusion of certain substantive and procedural due process rights.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) (Amendment) Act 2006

JJA 2000 was further amended in 2006 to make it clear that juvenility would be reckoned
from the date of commission of offence who have not completed eighteenth year of age thus
clarifying ambiguities raised inArnit Das vs State of Bihar [(2000] 5 SCC 488]. The
amendment also made it clear that under no circumstances, a juvenile in conflict with law is
to be kept in a police lock-up or lodged in a jail. In addition, it stipulated that the Chief
Judicial Magistrate or the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate is to review the pendency of cases of
the Board at every six months, and child protection units should be set up in states and
districts to see to the implementation of the Act.

National Human Rights Commission and Measures for Juvenile Justice System

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is an embodiment of Indias concern for the
promotion and protection of human rights. Ever since the NHRC came into existence, it has
been concerned about the plight of juveniles who come in conflict with law and children who
are in need of care and protection. While the Law Division of the NHRC has been dealing
with complaints; the Policy Research, Projects and Programmes Division of the NHRC has
been monitoring the implementation of the related Act at the national level as well as
studying and recommending effective application of those international instruments that
intend to improve the overall functioning of the juvenile justice system in the country. Some
instances of NHRC intervention in this regard are given below.

Deaths and Rapes in Homes set up under JJA 1986


In September 1996, the NHRC called for information with regard to incidents of deaths and
rapes in Homes set-up under the JJA 1986 within 24 hours of its occurrence by writing to
the Chief Secretaries/Administrators of all the States/Union Territories. Later, in February
2002, the NHRC modified its existing instructions on the subject directing that an inquest by
a Magistrate be conducted immediately in all cases of deaths in Homes and the report
including comments on possible medical negligence to be sent to the NHRC. In case of any
allegation of rape/unnatural offence on any inmate of the Home, a criminal case should be
registered immediately against the offending staff member/officer and a copy of the FIR and
the supervision note should invariably be sent to the NHRC. If any foul play is suspected in
the magisterial inquest, the post-mortem examination should invariably be done and the
post-mortem report sent to the NHRC. In all cases of death of an inmate where the initial
inquest by a Magistrate indicates some foul-play, magisterial inquiry should be made
mandatory.

Escape of Inmates from Juvenile Homes

Under this broad head, the NHRC dealt with 87 cases, where its attention was drawn to the
escape of several inmates from the Beggars Homes/Juvenile Homes/Remand Homes
situated in different parts of Maharashtra. The Commission pointed out that it was the state
governments duty to take appropriate measures for the safe custody of the inmates. The
escape of such a large number of inmates was indicative of the fact that there were either
serious infrastructural deficiencies or that security arrangements were faulty.
The Commission directed that the state chief secretary should review the functioning of
these homes with a view to ensuring better care and avoiding the recurrence of
circumstances leading to such incidents (NHRC: Annual Report 1998-1999).
Illegal Detention of a Three-year-old Child for Ten Years
A former Member of Parliament drew the attention of the NHRC to the plight of a young girl
who had witnessed a murder, and was thereafter, detained in police custody for about ten
years. The NHRC immediately took note of the letter and called for a report from the

Director General of Police, West Bengal. The report of the Director General of Police stated
that on 30 March 1990, the learned Magistrate, Nadia had ordered that one child, who was
an eyewitness in a case in which her father had allegedly murdered her mother, should be
lodged at Liluaha Home and produced in the court, as and when required. She was last
produced in the court on 20 September 1996, wherein she failed to identify the accused. In
1992, she was shifted from Liluaha Home to a Child Care Home (run by an NGO) on the
orders of an IAS Officer who was also the ex-officio Director of Social Welfare Department,
West Bengal, for proper upkeep, schooling, protection, care and further rehabilitation of the
concerned child. However, when the said NGO approached the learned court for approval of
transfer, the learned Sessions Judge termed the act as highly irregular and asked for an
explanation from the Director of Social Welfare for having transferred the child without prior
approval and intimation to the court. Subsequently, she was again sent back to Liluaha
Home. Through its memo dated 1 September 1997, the Social Welfare Department once
more directed transfer of the child to a government approved/recognized NGO Child Care
Home for her education, care and rehabilitation. The report stated that the court had not
passed any order so far.
The Commission expressed its shock at the inhuman and apathetic manner in which the
case was handled by the police and other authorities. It found the very idea of retaining a
girl child, who was only three years old at the time of the incident, and considering her
competent to be a witness in a court of law, and keeping her waiting for the commencement
of the trial for ten long years, as shocking. The appalling lack of interest shown by the
authorities in the welfare of the innocent child resulted in depriving her of her normal
childhood which could never be regained. No amount of compensation, the Commission felt,
would be adequate for the loss she had suffered. However, it recommended to the
Government of West Bengal to ensure that the child is suitably rehabilitated and educated in
an SOS Childrens Home or sent to a reputable institute run by an NGO in or around the city
of Calcutta, till she became a major. The Commission also recommended that a sum of
Rs.50,000/- be deposited in her name through a court guardian, the interest of which would
be paid to the institute looking after her, and the principal amount to be released to her on
her becoming a major to enable her to settle in life. Thereafter, a compliance report from
the Government of West Bengal was received in the matter (NHRC: Annual Report 19992000).
Other Measures
In October 2005, when the Registrar General of the High Court of Patna informed the
NHRC that the implementation of the JJA 2000 was extremely poor in Bihar, the NHRC once
again directed that the matter of juvenile justice be reviewed expeditiously in each state
and union territory. Prior to this, the NHRC in collaboration with an NGO (Socio-Legal
Information Centre, New Delhi) had undertaken a study concerning the implementation of
the JJA 2000 in 16 states. Its findings revealed that the implementation of the JJA 2000 was
poor in all its aspects and needed to be strengthened.
The NHRC organized a two-day National Conference on Juvenile Justice System in India on 3
and 4 February 2007 in New Delhi. The Conference made a number of
recommendations/suggestions to improve the functioning of the juvenile justice system in

the country. It laid stress on the implementation of the JJA 2006 in both letter and spirit,
urging the states/union territories to establish the required infrastructure under the juvenile
justice system to ensure that there is zero pendency and that the inquiry is completed
within the stipulated period. It also emphasized on providing requisite care to ensure
protection, growth and development of children, both in conflict with law and in need of care
and protection.
Conclusion
Undoubtedly, juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection are
defenceless and they need special protection. The state guarantees special treatment to
them through statutory law. However, in practice, they often get victimized by legal and
procedural entanglements. They are more prone to human rights violations at the hands of
state agencies, their own family and community in the form of arbitrary detention, cruel
punishments, torture and abuse. In recent years, the problems of children in need of care
and protection and those in conflict with law has been receiving considerable attention both
of the government, NHRC, social activists as well as the civil society at large. But, the
problems encountered by them are of gigantic nature and all that is being done is not
sufficient. If the problems faced by them are not taken into account, we as a society would
be failing in our duties. It is therefore of paramount importance that as a society we must
devote full attention to ensure that they are properly cared for so that they have their
rightful place in the society. For this to happen, there is need to spread awareness on the
problems faced by them as well as build-up the capacities of all those dealing with them.
The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the Ministry of Women and Child
Development, Government of India that was launched during the on-going Eleventh Five
Year Plan (2007-2012) is a welcome step in this direction. The ICPS encompasses the
existing schemes of (i) Integrated Programme for Street Children, (ii) Shishu Greha
Scheme, (iii) Programme for Juvenile Justice, etc. The focus of the ICPS is on child
protection and is the shared responsibility of the government, family, community and civil
society.