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Introduction The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986

The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986




The problem of juvenile justice is, no doubt, one of tragic human interest so much so in fact that it is not only confined to this country alone but cuts across national boundaries. Juvenile delinquency laws are characterized by the denature that they prescribe many acts which are regarded as non-criminal if indulged in by elder persons like drinking, smoking, viewing adult films or reading adult literature, etc. The extension of the concept of juvenile delinquency towider limits has drawn adverse criticism on the ground that it is neither necessary nor desirable to use police and courts in private matters which can be well tackled by family themselves.


The first legislation converning children which came in 1850 was the Apprentic Act which provided that children in the age group of 10-18 convicted by courts were intended to be provided with some vocational training which might help their rehabilitation. It was followed by Reformatory Schools Act, 1897. The Indian Jail Committee (1919-1920) brought to the fore the vital need for square trial and treatment of young offenders. Its recommendations prompted the enactment of the Children Act in Madras in 1920. This was followed by Bengal and Bombay Acts in 1922 and 1924 respectively. The three poineer statutes (i.e. Acts concerning Madras, Bengal and Bombay) were extensively amended between 1948 and 1959.


In 1960 at the second United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of offenders at London this issue was discussed and some therapeutic recommendations were adopted.


The Central enactment, the Children Act, 1960 was passed to cater to the heads of the Union Territories. To remove same inherent lacuane of the above mentioned Act, the Children (Amendment) Act was passed in 1978. But the need of a uniform legislation regarding juvenile justice for the whole country had been expressed in various fora, including Parliament but it could not be enacted on he ground that the subject matter of such a legislation fell in the State List of the Constitution. To bring the operations of the juvenile justice system in the country in conformity with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, Parliament seems to have exercised its power under Article 253 of the Constitution read with Entry 14 of the Union List to make law for the whole of India to fulfill international obligations. On 22nd August, 1986, the Juvenile Justice Bill, 1986 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.




A review of the working of the existing Children Acts would indicate that much greater attention is required to be given to children who may be found in situations of social maladjustment, delinquency or neglect. The justice system as available for adults is not considered suitable for being applied to juvenile. It is also necessary that a uniform juvenile justice system should be available throughout the country which should make adequate provision for dealing with all aspects in the changing social, cultural and economic situation in the country. There is also need for larger involvement of informal systems and community based welfare agencies in the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of such juveniles.


In this context, the proposed legislation aims at achieving the following objectives:-


(i) To lay down a uniform frame work for juvenile justice in the country so as to ensure that no child under any circumstances is lodged in jail or police lock-up. This is being ensured by establishing Juvenile Welfare Boards and Juvenile Courts;


(ii) To provide for a specialised approach towards the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency in its full range in keeping with the development needs of the child found in any situation of social maladjustment;


(iii) To spell out the machinery and infrastructure required for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of various categories of children coming within the purview of the juvenile justice system. This is proposed to be achieved by establishing observation homes, juvenile homes for neglected juveniles and special homes for delinquent juveniles;


(iv) To establish norms and standards for the administration of juvenile justice in terms of investigation and prosecution, adjudication and disposition and care, treatment and rehabilitation;


(v) To develop appropriate linkages and coordination between the formal system of juvenile justice and voluntary agencies engaged in the welfare of neglected or society maladjusted children and to specifically define the areas of their responsibilities and roles;


(vi) To constitute special offences in relation to juveniles and provide for punishments therefore;


(vii) To bring the operation of the juvenile justice system in the country in conformity with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice.


As its various provisions come into force in different parts of the country they would replace the corresponding laws on the subject such as Children Act, 1960 and other State enactments on the subject.


The Bill seeks to achieve the above objects.


Act 53 of 1986


The Juvenile Justice Bill, 1986 was passed by both Houses of Parliament. After receiving the assent of the President it came on the Statute Book as

the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (53 of 1986).



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The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986


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