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Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Written by: Navya Mallela


In India, juvenile crime is a harsh fact. There is a distinction to be made between the terms Juvenile and Minor. While we use both words interchangeably in everyday speech, the legal terms for "juvenile" and "minor" are used in separate contexts. The term juvenile refers to a young criminal offender, while the term minor refers to a person's legal ability or majority. As a result, a juvenile is a person who is accused of committing such actions or omissions that are illegal and have been deemed as such[1].

Juveniles have recently been found to be involved in the most violent offences, such as murder and gang rape. While the causes of criminal behaviour in childhood are a complicated matter, delinquency is fairly predictable early in the lives of certain children.Antisocial behaviour in the form of juvenile delinquency, on the other hand, is linked to adult crime. Early problem behaviour, on the other hand, should not be neglected for two reasons: it predicts later, more severe issues, and if addressed, even simple approaches can be successful in minimising future delinquency. The worldwide phenomenon of disorder and destruction caused by deviant behaviour is reaching unprecedented levels in social institutions, serving as a wake-up call to those who are either in its grasp or are about to be hit.


A juvenile is anyone under the age of eighteen. He/she can be described as a child who has not reached the age at which he can be held responsible for his criminal actions in the same way that an adult can[2]. They are the ones who are accused of committing a crime by some act or omission on his or her part. In legal words, the terms juvenile and underage are used in a particular way. Referral to another source may be beneficial in clarifying the context. For the sake of convenience, the concept of the juvenile differs from state to state.


The involvement of a minor between the ages of 10 and 17 in criminal acts is known as juvenile delinquency. It is a social evil and is a socially unacceptable behaviour committed by minors or juveniles. The juveniles are kept in Juvenile jail and correction homes. Then various corrective measures are taken to change their behaviour and develop a positive direction. It is observed that delinquency is increasing with the increase in population and complexity of culture.

The problem of child (juvenile) delinquency like many other social evils is linked up with the imperfections and maladjustment of our society and is also connected with the present-day system of education to some extent. This system aims more at the training of the intellect than the education of the emotions which play such a vital part in the formation of the pattern of the child’s behaviour and personality. But the idea is gradually gaining wider acceptance that the juvenile delinquent needs the sympathy and understanding of the society and social agencies and not the heavy hand of the law. It has taken an unimaginative and insensitive society many dark centuries to achieve this degree of understanding.

In several countries, statistical evidence shows that juvenile delinquency is primarily dependent on the thinking of the communities in which they reside, as well as social influences in the region, as well as the behaviour of peers and the financial circumstances of the family in which these juveniles reside. Most of the juvenile offences are done with the help of gangs.[3] According to Russian Federation statistics, the crime rate among juveniles is three to four times that of adult offenders and crimes committed by elders.


1. Running away from home without parental permission.

2. Parents have no influence over their children's habits.

4. Use of vulgar languages.

5. Committing sexual crime.

6. Visiting gambling centre etc.


Nobody is born to be a criminal. He is what he is because of the circumstances. Social conditions, both inside and outside of the home, assume a noteworthy part in shaping one's life and general identity. Poverty, drug abuse, anti-social peer groups, easy access to weapons, abusive guardians, single-parent children, nuclear families, family violence, child sexual mistreatment, and the role of the media are the most common causes of juvenile crime.[4]In any case, in India, it is poverty and the influence of media, that causes adolescents to be more inclined to criminal activities. In adolescence, sexual and other desires are often triggered by movies and pornographic literature. As a result, they can begin their "adventure" by pleasing them while committing crimes. Poverty is one of the most significant factors that lead to a juvenile's involvement in illegal activity.

Juvenile delinquency can be explained by biological causes such as early physiological development or low intelligence. Juveniles' impulsive and defiant behaviour is attributed to hormonal shifts in their bodies. To ensure the adequate defence of girls against trafficking and child pornography, a special share of resources should be allocated.

Provisions under Indian statutes regarding the Juvenile Justice laws in India

Constitutional Provisions

The Indian Constitution offers a thorough examination and interpretation of children's rights. Since the state owes them special care and security, the Indian constitution has provided them with a number of rights relating to their liberty, growth, and care, non-discrimination, educational rights, and so on. It is also backed up by a comprehensive legal framework. Article 15(3)[5], empowers the government to enact special legislation for women and children. The 42nd Amendment Act added Article 39(f) to the Indian Constitution, which states that children must be provided with opportunities and facilities to grow in a safe manner, in conditions of freedom and dignity, and that they must be shielded from abuse and moral and material abandonment.

The Apprentices Act, 1850,[6] in India, was the first law dealing with juvenile crimes. It stated that children under the age of 15 who were found to have committed petty offences would be bound as apprentices. Following that, the Reformatory Schools Act of 1897[7] went into effect, requiring that children under the age of 15 who were sentenced to prison be sent to a reformatory cell. Our Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986[8] after independence with the aim of providing care, security, growth, and rehabilitation to abused or delinquent juveniles. It was a law that established a uniform system throughout the world. A "child who has not attained the age of 16 years and a girl who has not attained the age of 18 years" is described as a "juvenile" under Section 2(a) of the Act.

Later, in 2000, Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act[9], which increased the age limit for both girls and boys to 18 years. This act stipulates that a juvenile should only be held for a maximum of three years, regardless of the seriousness of the offence committed. In light of Section 17[10] of the Act, it grants protection to a child who is under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crime from being tried in a criminal court or facing any penalty under criminal law. The aim of the new law was to rehabilitate the child and assimilate him or her into mainstream society. The rationale is that, because of his or her young age and lack of maturity, a child can still be reformed, and it is the state's duty to protect and improve the child.

Proposed Amendment in Juvenile Justice Act, 2000

Due to widespread public outcry over the rising number of crimes committed by juveniles, the government has agreed to present the proposed amendment to the law in the current Parliament. Following the case of Mukesh & ors. V. State of Delhi,[11]also known as the "Delhi Gang Rape" case, a juvenile, who was just a few months less to 18 years old, was sentenced to three years in prison, despite the fact that he was an active participant in the rape. It sparked anger among the public, and it was suggested that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, be amended.

In Sheela Barse vs Union of India,[12]Sheela Barse, a committed social worker, took up the case of vulnerable children under the age of 16 who were being kept in jails illegally. She asked for the release of such young children from prisons, as well as information about juvenile courts, families, and schools, as well as a directive that District judges visit jails or sub-jails within their jurisdiction to ensure that children are adequately cared for while in custody. Children in prison are entitled to special care. According to the Court, children are valuable national assets that deserve special attention. The Court advocated for the establishment of remand and juvenile homes for children arrested. The Supreme Court stepped in to secure the interests of children in observation homes in Sheela Barse v Secretary Children Aid Society.

The consequences of this amendment will be far-reaching in our criminal justice system. The following are the main changes in brief:

  • The proposed legislation will repeal and replace the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act of 2000.

  • It has specifically described and classified offences such as petty, severe, and heinous offences.

  • There has been an increase in the number of violent crimes committed by minors between the ages of 16 and 18. As a result, it is recommended that such heinous crimes be treated differently, taking into account the interests of victims as well as the rights of juveniles.

  • As a result, if a heinous crime is committed by a minor between the ages of 16 and 18, the Juvenile Justice Board will first determine if the crime was committed by that person as a "child" or an "adult."

  • The Juvenile Justice Board will include counsellors and psychological experts who will ensure that the juvenile's rights are properly secured if the offence was committed while he or she was a child.

  • The trial of the case will be based on the Board's assessment report, which will determine whether the involved juvenile committed the crime as a child or as an adult.


For such children, prevention is essential. First and foremost, we must classify those juveniles and then handle them. If they are not stopped from committing the crime in a timely manner, they may become a habitual offender. Early intervention with children and their families has proven to be the most successful way to deter juvenile delinquency. Several state programmes try to intervene early, and federal support for neighbourhood projects has allowed independent organisations to tackle the issue in innovative ways. Many jurists and criminologists have proposed a variety of provisions to prevent juvenile delinquency. Some of the provisions are extremely beneficial to the welfare and development of juveniles.

The most effective programs for juvenile delinquency prevention share the following key components:

  • Education

  • Recreation

  • Participation in the communication

  • Programme for parent-child interaction

  • A program to combat Bullying


There are two types of rehabilitation programmes available in India for juvenile delinquents:

1. Institutional Treatment programs 2. Community-Based programs

Institutional Treatment Program

Institutional programs to rehabilitate juvenile delinquency may be classified into three categories:

(1) Observation Home

(2) Juvenile Home

(3) Special Home

Community Based Program

Community based programmes includes: 1) Probation (2) Release on license/ Aftercare.


All societies, all over the world, have dealt with juvenile delinquency and the issues that come with it; nevertheless, the problems are exacerbated throughout the developing world. The development process has brought in a socio-cultural upheaval that has impacted age-old traditional ways of life in the peaceful rural area. Changes in the environment have a negative impact on children. Simultaneously, the conventional social control structure, which acted as a deterrent to any antisocial behaviour, is increasingly giving way. As a result, the issue of teenage deviance and antisocial proclivities is resurfacing – a circumstance that must be addressed.

Separate laws must be developed for each type of crime. For example, in cases of robbery, smuggling, or some other minor crime, the perpetrators should be sent to a Rehabilitation Centre to be groomed, while severe assaults such as violent rape should be treated differently. An exemption may be made specifically for this offence, in which case they will be treated the same as adults since this is the height of crime.

[1]Mittal, K., “JUVENILE DELINQUENCY IN INDIA” (2005),1st ed. p.3. [2]Phogat, K “Juvenile Delinquency in India Causes and Prevention”, Vol.13/ Issue: 1, IGNITED MINDS JOURNAL, 625-629 (2017). [3]The Bombay Children Act, 1948, section 4 [4]Roshni, Sreelatha “JuvenileDelinquency in India”, Vol.120, International Journal of pure, 1729-1738 (2018). [5]Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution [6] The Apprentices Act 1850 [7] The Reformatory Schools Act of 1897 [8]Juvenile Justice Act 1986 [9] Juvenile justice (care and protection) Act [10]Section 17 of the Indian constitution [11] 1986 SCC (Cri) 352 [12]2017 SCC online SC 533

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