In a latest development, the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
Key-highlights of the Amendments
The Amendment aims to introduce measures for strengthening the Child Protection set-up to ensure the best interest of children.
- Authorization to DM: The amendment authorizes District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act. Appeals can be done at the divisional commissioner level
- Adoption powers to Magistrates: Children accused of offences where the maximum sentence is more than seven years but in which no minimum sentence is prescribed will no longer be tried in adult courts. From now on, district magistrates, as well as the additional district magistrates, will be allowed to issue adoption orders.
- This has been done to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability,
- Eligibility criteria set up: Defining eligibility parameters for the appointment of CWC members.
- Categorization of serious offence: Categorization of previously undefined offences as ‘serious offence’. The amendments also state that crimes committed by children, in which the minimum sentence is less than seven years, will be categorised as “serious” and not “heinous” offences.
- Special care: Children who have suffered trafficking, drug abuse or have been rescued or children abandoned by their guardians too will come under child in need of protection or CARE.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
- The JJ Act, 2015 replaced the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
- It allows for juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults.
- The Act also sought to create a universally accessible adoption law for India.
- Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.
- The bill allows a Juvenile Justice Board, which would include psychologists and social workers.
- The bill introduced concepts from the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption, 1993 which were missing in the previous act.
- The bill introduces foster care in India.
Who are considered Juvenile?
- As per the prevailing law, a child below 18 years has to be treated as a juvenile/child for all purposes.
- Exception: If a child has committed a ‘heinous offence’, the child (if between the age of 16-18 years), can be tried as an adult and taken out of the protective umbrella of the juvenile justice system.