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Juvenile Court Laws in India

NCJ Number
Social Defence Volume: 16 Issue: 64 Dated: (April 1981) Pages: 5-13
M Najmi
Date Published
9 pages
This paper highlights the philosophy and organization of the juvenile court system in India, as well as juvenile codes, arrest procedures, and qualifications for juvenile court magistrates.
The fundamental idea of juvenile court law is that the State must step in and exercise guardianship over a child found under social or personal conditions that promote criminality. This reflects the realization that children are unable to manage their own affairs and that delinquent acts affect the whole social structure adversely. The juvenile justice reform movement in the Western world created some ferment in 19th century India, but recommendations of the 1920-21 Indian Jail Commission were the real impetus for separate juvenile legislation. Most States have enacted legislation based on Great Britain's 1960 Children Act providing for separate juvenile court and treatment systems. Many States still do not have separate juvenile courts but appoint especially empowered magistrates to handle these cases. The half-hearted manner in which some States have implemented their juvenile legislation is clearly a breach of faith with India's humanitarian Constitution. The 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure confines the juvenile court's jurisdiction to youths under 16 years old who have committed offenses not punishable by death or life imprisonment. The Central Children Act of 1960 has a broader definition of delinquency and extends the age to 18 for girls. Age limits also vary among States. Juveniles apprehended by the police can be released on bail to parents or guardians or must be produced before the court within 24 hours. The court requests a background report from the probation officer before making a decision. Juvenile court judges must have special knowledge of child psychology and child welfare. The juvenile court has established a good reputation, although its achievements as a crime prevention agency are meager. Over 20 references are included.


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