Lost and alone

The Juvenile Justices Act, 1986 (for short, the `JJ Act’) was enacted to provide for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles and for the adjudication of such matters relating to disposition of delinquent juveniles. The pre-existing law was found inadequate to tie over social knowledge, instrument, delinquency or improvement of the child.

The Act sought to achieve a uniform legal framework for juvenile justice in the country as a whole so as to ensure that no child, in any circumstance, is lodged in jail and police lock-up. This is being ensured by establishing Juvenile Welfare Boards and Juvenile courts to deal adequately with the subject.

Object of the Court

 The object of the Act, therefore, is to provide specialised approach towards the delinquent or neglected juvenile to prevent recurrence of juvenile delinquency in its full range keeping in view the developmental needs of the child found in the situation of social maladjustment.

That aim is secured by establishing observation homes, juvenile houses, juvenile homes or neglected juvenile and special homes for delinquent or neglected juveniles.

The JJ Act is consistent with the right of the child to development; the established norms and standards for the administration of juvenile justice and special mode of investigation, prosecution, adjudication and disposition of the juvenile. The JJ Act provides for care, treatment and rehabilitation by developing appropriate linkage and co-operation between formal system of juvenile justice and voluntary agencies engaged in the welfare of the neglected or socially mal-adjusted children; it specifically defines the areas of the responsibilities etc.

Provision of the Act

  • Section 2(a) defines `begging’.
  • Section 2(b) defines `Board’ to means Juvenile Welfare Board constituted under Section 4.
  • Section 2(f) defines `fit person’ or `fit institution’ to mean any person or institution (not being a police station or jail) found fit by the competent authority to receive and take care of a juvenile entrusted to his or its care and protection on the terms and conditions specified by the competent authority.
  • `Juvenile’ has been defined under Section 2(h) to mean a boy who has not attained the age of sixteen years or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years.
  • `Neglected juvenile’ has been defined in Section 2(1) to mean a juvenile who

(i) is found begging; or

(ii) is found without having any home or settled place of abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence and is destitute;

(iii) has a parent or guardian who is unfit or incapacitated to exercise control over the juvenile; or

(iv) lives in a brothel or with a prostitute or frequently goes to any place used for the purpose of prostitution, or is found to associate with any prostitution or any other person who leads an immoral, drunken or depraved life;

(v) who is being or is likely to be abused or exploited for immoral or illegal purposes or unconscionable gain.

  • `Prostitution’ means the sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes and the expression `prostitute’ shall be construed as it is defined under Section 2(f) of ITP Act. After the amendment to the ITP Act, `prostitution’ means sexual exploitation or abuse of person for commercial purpose.

The Probation Officer is kept in-charge for enforcement of the provisions of the Act.

Juvenile Welfare Boards

Section 4 of the JJ Act deals with `Juvenile Welfare Boards’ under Chapter III titled `Competent Authority and Institutions for Juvenile’.

It postulates that the State Government by official notification may constitute for any area specified in the notification, one or more Juvenile Welfare Boards for exercising the powers and discharging the duties conferred or imposed on such Board in relation to neglected Juveniles under the JJ Act. The powers of the Juvenile Courts, defined in Section 5, have been reiterated in Section 7.

Juvenile homes

Section 9 deals with `Juvenile homes’. It enjoins the State Government to establish and maintain as many juvenile homes as may be necessary for the reception of neglected juveniles under the JJ Act.

Every juvenile home to which a neglected juvenile is sent under the JJ Act shall not only provide the juvenile with accommodation, maintenance and facilities for education, vocational training and rehabilitation, but also to provide him with facilities for the development of his character and abilities and give him necessary training for protecting himself against moral danger or exploitation and shall also perform such other functions as may be prescribed to ensure all-round growth and development of his personality.

After-care organisations

Section 12 touches upon the need for After-care organisations. Under Section 13 in Chapter III, if any police officer or any other person or organisation authorised by the State Government in this behalf, by general or special order, is of opinion that a person is apparently a neglected juvenile, such police officer or other person or organisation may take change of that person for bringing him before a Board for rehabilitation, care and protection of the child.

Section 14 deals with special procedure to be followed when neglected juvenile has parents. Section 15 regulates inquiry regarding the neglected juvenile, the details of which are not material.