With the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 coming into force from 15 January 2016 and allowing for lower culpable age of a juvenile, such accused can now be tried as adults for heinous crimes.
The Act – lowering culpable age from 18 years to 16 years – was passed in the winter session by the Rajya Sabha and received President’s assent on December 31, 2015. It repeals the existing Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.
Under Section 15 of the new law, special provisions have been made to tackle child offenders in the age group of 16-18 years who commit heinous crimes, a Ministry of Women and Child development release said.
The Juvenile Justice Board is given the option to transfer cases of heinous offences by such children to a children’s court (court of sessions) after conducting preliminary assessment.
The act provides for placing such offender children in a ‘place of safety’ both during and after the trial till they attain the age of 21, after which his/her evaluation shall be conducted by the children’s court.
After the evaluation, the child is either released on probation and if not reformed, he/she will be sent to a jail for the remaining term.
Some other key provisions include new definitions such as orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children; petty, serious and heinous offences committed by children; clarity in powers, function and responsibilities of the Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committee.
For streamlined and more effective adoption procedures for orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children, the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority has been given statutory body status.
Several rehabilitation and social reintegration measures have been provided for children in conflict with law.
Several new offences committed against children are incorporated in the new law, including sale and procurement of children for any purpose like illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child care institutions, use of children by militant groups, offences against disabled children and kidnapping and abduction of children.
All child care institutions, whether run by the state government or voluntary or non-governmental organisations, are to be registered under the new legislation within six months from the date of commencement. Stringent penalty is provided in case of non-compliance.