PRESS NOTE
At a national consultation held on Juveniles and ‘Serious Crime’ under the Juvenile Justice
(Care and Protectio...
and autonomy. Every country makes its own policy decision on these age limits, based on the
prevailing ideas, socio-econom...
3. What are the gaps in research and field experience in this area?
4. What are the key philosophical, moral, psycho-socia...
CONFERENCE STATEMENT
It was unanimously resolved that the following Conference Statement has been adopted.
The Indian Cons...
The allegedly proposed amendments propose to reclassify and consequently discriminating
between children by
(i) singling o...
We are firmly of the view that we cannot allow politics and uninformed public outrage to trump
well entrenched rights and ...
of 6

Press Note National Consultation on Juveniles and Serious Crime Under The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act 2000

Press Note National Consultation on Juveniles and Serious Crime Under The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act 2000 HAQ: Center for Child Rights B1/2, Ground Floor, Malviya Nagar New Delhi - 110017 Tel: +91-26677412,26673599 Fax: +91-26674688 Website: www.haqcrc.org FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HaqCentreForChildRights
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Published in: Government & Nonprofit      
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - Press Note National Consultation on Juveniles and Serious Crime Under The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act 2000

  • 1. PRESS NOTE At a national consultation held on Juveniles and ‘Serious Crime’ under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, organized by the Centre for Child and the Law at National Law School of India University, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, & National Law University – Delhi on 30 November and 1 December, 2013, the child rights community took a firm position that any proposal to reclassify and consequently discriminate between children by singling out the 16 - 18 year old male child for exclusion from the beneficial juvenile justice jurisdiction or identification of juveniles on the basis of extreme nature of the behaviour alone will violate the guarantees under the Indian Constitution, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and international instruments. A list of the participants and a Conference Statement that was unanimously adopted is enclosed. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was ratified by India in 1992. Article 1 states that a child “means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” This leads us to the question that with regard to children in India, what is the age at which childhood should be seen to have legally ended? There are many who argue that there is a need for a uniform age of the child across all child related law. The other view is that this may not be in the best interest of the child, as there is a need to view a child and adolescent as an evolving human being with capacities to engage in different kinds of activities at different developmental stages. The responsibilities that may be placed on children also vary according to their age, maturity and capacity. The key question perhaps should be –what is the most appropriate legal age limit for a particular activity that is to be undertaken by a child that would best enable the overall growth and development of a child in India with dignity? This is based on the rationale that children’s capacities and competencies to undertake activities differ as per the nature of activity. In India age limits are set by laws on specific subjects. These age limits are a manifestation of the society’s judgment about the capacities and responsibilities of children. The legal provisions therefore are a tool to regulate children’s activities with the objective of either protecting them from harm or empowering them to engage in certain activities in recognition of their maturity
  • 2. and autonomy. Every country makes its own policy decision on these age limits, based on the prevailing ideas, socio-economic conditions, culture etc. There are a number of laws that deal with children in India. The focus of this consultation however, is on the age of criminal responsibility in the context of the raging debate on the age limit for juvenility, a reaction to the horrific gang rape that took place on 16 December 2012. Resource persons who are academicians/practitioners from the field of child and adolescent psychology, child rights law, social work and other related fields will be invited to trigger the debates on these themes. Representatives from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights will also be invited. We hope that the insights that culminate from debates on these themes will feed into the campaign against the lowering of age of juveniles or the treatment of certain juveniles as adults as well as law reform processes that are underway on the JJ Act in particular. We also intend to submit recommendations to concerned authorities so as to positively impact policy on these themes, and also contribute to harmonization of law through law reform, where appropriate. Objectives of the Consultation 1. To enable a more nuanced understanding of the developmental needs of children and adolescents in India and implications for law and policy on juvenile justice. To facilitate consensus on policy concerning proposal to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, in order to narrow the scope of the legislation in terms of age/seriousness of offences, and/or on the waiver system to transfer juveniles to the adult criminal justice system as provided for in some other countries. 2. To arrive at strategies and proposals for either reforming existing laws or for preventing law reform, where the law is robust enough to protect/empower children. Key Questions that were addressed during the Consultation 1. Is the legal age limit prescribed by the law on this subject compliant with developmental psychology, child rights, findings of neuro-science, field experience and other evidence supporting the same? 2. Is the JJ Act compatible with international standards and the Indian Constitution?
  • 3. 3. What are the gaps in research and field experience in this area? 4. What are the key philosophical, moral, psycho-social, legal and other debates that form the basis of proposals to amend/retain the law particularly with regard to juveniles who commit serious crime? 5. What are the recommendations for law and/or law reform in this area? 6. What are the areas for further research/debate on the issue of juveniles who ‘commit serious’ crime in India? NATIONAL CONSULTATION On JUVENILES AND ‘SERIOUS CRIME’ UNDER THE JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN) ACT, 2000 On 30 November-1 December, a group of experts across the country working on juvenile justice assembled for a National-level Consultation on Juveniles and ‘Serious Crime’ under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, organized by the Centre for Child and the Law at National Law School of India University, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, & National Law University, Delhi with the support of CRY, UNICEF, and SDTT. This consultation brought together experts from varied disciplines such as law, social work, psychology, and psychiatry and reputed organisations and institutions such as Tata Institute of Social Sciences - Mumbai, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry NIMHANS - Bangalore, Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University - Bangalore, HAQ Centre for Child Rights - Delhi, Aangan Trust –Mumbai, etc who unanimously arrived at the position that any proposal to reclassify and consequently discriminate between children by singling out the 16 - 18 year old male child for exclusion from the beneficial juvenile justice jurisdiction or identification of juveniles on the basis of extreme nature of the behaviour alone will violate the guarantees under the Indian Constitution, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and international instruments. A list of the participants and the Conference Statements is enclosed.
  • 4. CONFERENCE STATEMENT It was unanimously resolved that the following Conference Statement has been adopted. The Indian Constitution obligates the state to enact laws in favour of the weak and disadvantaged as contained in the concept of proportional equality inherent in Article 14 of the Constitution. The Constitution also allows the state to enact special laws and provisions for children under Article 15 (3). This spirit is also reflected in the National Policy for Children notified in 2013. Para 1.1 states that - ‘India is home to the largest child population in the world. The Constitution of India guarantees fundamental rights to all children in the country, and empowers the state to make special provisions for children. The Directive Principles of State Policy specifically guide the state in securing the tender age of children from abuse, and ensuring that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner - in conditions of freedom and dignity. The state is responsible for ensuring - that childhood is protected from exploitation and moral and material abandonment’. However, a vast majority of children are deprived of opportunities and facilities that would reduce their vulnerability to offending behaviour. India has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 11th December 1992, wherein, it describes a child to be person under 18 years of age. The UN CRC also mandates state parties to treat a child offender in a manner commensurate with age, and to promote such child’s reintegration and assumption of a constructive role in society. In accordance with its international commitments and the observation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in February 2000, the Government of India enacted a new law, and inter alia, prescribed a uniform age of 18 years for both boys and girls. The aforesaid National Policy re-iterates that a child is a person under 18 years of age and commits that state will take special protection measures to secure the rights and entitlements of all children, including juveniles in conflict with law, and promote child friendly jurisprudence. Any attempt of reducing the age of juvenility, or excluding certain children from the purview of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)Act on the basis of nature of the offence and age, will violate guarantees made under the Constitution and International instruments.
  • 5. The allegedly proposed amendments propose to reclassify and consequently discriminating between children by (i) singling out the 16 - 18 year old male child for exclusion from the beneficial juvenile justice jurisdiction (ii) identification of juveniles on the basis of extreme nature of the behaviour alone The proposed amendment would imply that persons between 16 and 18 years are equally culpable or blameworthy as adults. The aforesaid proposed amendments fall foul of the Constitutional guarantees, International law principles, settled authority of law in the Salil Bali vs Union of India (2013) 7 SCC 705, and rule of law as laid down by the existing juvenile justice system. Research and writing by behavioral scientists and neuroscientists on the culpability of children is exceedingly compelling on this point. Both confirm that they lack the psycho-social maturity that in turn predisposes them to make bad decisions which could result in deviant behaviour. According to experts in adolescent psychology, adolescents are less risk averse, more susceptible to peer pressure and other impressions and influences, less capable of controlling their impulses and thinking far ahead. These are the factors that are often displayed in the conduct of juveniles in conflict with law. This is a transient phase thus supporting the notion that all juveniles are amenable to reformation and rehabilitation. These findings are endorsed by neuroscientists who state that the prefrontal cortex, known as the CEO of the brain which is responsible for important functions such as planning ,reasoning, judgment, and impulse control, is the slowest to mature. The maturation process begins at around the age of 12 years and goes up to the age of 25 years. Based on this information, it can be concluded that children are not equally culpable as adults and can certainly not be treated as adults irrespective of the nature of the offence they have allegedly committed. To do so would constitute a grave violation of the right to equality and the right to life and liberty. The JJ Act is not fully operational across the country, and this is acknowledged by the Ministry in the Working Group Report for the 12th Five Year Plan. Concerted efforts should therefore be made to strengthen the implementation of the existing law.
  • 6. We are firmly of the view that we cannot allow politics and uninformed public outrage to trump well entrenched rights and principles under the Constitution and the UNCRC. Nor can we allow the principles of juvenile justice to be undermined and our commitment made before an international platform to be reneged. We believe that the focus should be on strengthening the reformation and rehabilitation process with regard to the child so as to ensure that justice is done to all stakeholders in society, while retaining the essence and spirit of juvenile justice law. For more information contact: 1. Prof. Babu Mathew, NLUD - 09810606988, babumathewtu@gmail.com 2. Prof. B B Pande, 09899182177, bbpande@gmail.com 3. Prof. Dr. Shekhar P. Seshadri, Dept of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NIMHANS, 09845130639, shekharseshadri@rediffmail.com 4. Arlene Manoharan, 098452-85095, arlene@nls.ac.in 5. Swagata Raha, 09900105511, swagataraha@gmail.com 6. Adv. Maharukh Adenwalla, 09820141989, maharukhadenwalla@rediffmail.com 7. Anant Asthana, 9212117105, anantasthana@gmail.com Arlene Manoharan, Fellow Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University

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