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JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN) ACT, 2015

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was passed by Parliament of India amidst intense controversy, debate and protest on many of its provisions by Child Rights fraternity. It replaced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and allows trial of juveniles as adults in case of any heinous crime committed. The amended act aims at making adoption universal as well as easier.The Act amended in 2015 changed the nomenclature of ‘juvenile’ to ‘child’ and ‘child in conflict with the law’. The 2015 act was brought into force after public outrage at the infamous Delhi gang-rape case (Nirbhaya Case) in 2012 where one of the offenders was a 17 year old boy.  

                                               MINISTRY OF LAW AND JUSTICE  

  1. Short title, extent, commencement and application – (1) This Act may be called the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

(2) It extends to the whole of India. 

  1. Definitions. – In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-

(1) “Abandoned child” means a child deserted by his biological or adoptive parents or guardians, who has been declared as abandoned by the Committee after due inquiry; 

(2) “Adoption” means the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and becomes the lawful child of his adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child. 

(3)”child” means a person who has not completed eighteen years of age; 

(4) “Child in conflict with law” means a child who is alleged or found to have committed an offence and who has not completed eighteen years of age on the date of commission of such offence; 

(5) “Child in need of care and protection” means a child- 

(i) Who is found without any home or settled place of abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence; or 

(ii) Who is found working in contravention of labour laws for the time being in force or is found begging, or living on the street; or 

(iii) Who resides with a person (whether a guardian of the child or not) and such person 

(6)”juvenile” means a child below the age of eighteen years; 

(7)”orphan” means a child- 

(i) who is without biological or adoptive parents or legal guardian; or 

(ii) whose legal guardian is not willing to take, or capable of taking care of the child; 

(8) “Overseas citizen of India” means a person registered as such under the Citizenship.  

 

(3) Juvenile Justice Board. –  Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the State Government shall, constitute for every district, one or more Juvenile Justice Boards for exercising the powers and discharging its functions relating to children in conflict with law under this Act. 

(4) Apprehension of child alleged to be in conflict with law

(1) As soon as a child alleged to be in conflict with law is apprehended by the police, such child shall be placed under the charge of the special juvenile police unit or the designated child welfare police officer, who shall produce the child before the Board without any loss of time but within a period of twenty-four hours of apprehending the child excluding the time necessary for the journey, from the place where such child was apprehended: 

Provided that in no case, a child alleged to be in conflict with law shall be placed in a police lockup or lodged in a jail. 

(2) The State Government shall make rules consistent with this Act,- 

(i) to provide for persons through whom (including registered voluntary or nongovernmental organizations) any child alleged to be in conflict with law may be produced before the Board; 

(ii) to provide for the manner in which the child alleged to be in conflict with law may be sent to an observation home or place of safety, as the case may be. 

(5)Process of rehabilitation and social reintegration

The process of rehabilitation and social integration of children under this Act shall be undertaken, based on the individual care plan of the child, preferably through family based care such as by restoration to family or guardian with or without supervision or sponsorship, or adoption or foster care: 

Provided that all efforts shall be made to keep siblings placed in institutional or non-institutional care, together, unless it is in their best interest not to be kept together. 

(6)Foster care.

The children in need of care and protection may be placed in foster care, including group foster care for their care and protection through orders of the Committee, after following the procedure as may be prescribed in this regard, in a family which does not include the child’s biological or adoptive parents or in an unrelated family recognized as suitable for the purpose by the State Government, for a short or extended period of time. 

(7)Adoption

(1) Adoption shall be resorted to for ensuring right to family for the orphan, abandoned and surrendered children, as per the provisions of this Act, the rules made there under and the adoption regulations framed by the Authority. 

(2) Adoption of a child from a relative by another relative, irrespective of their religion, can be made as per the provisions of this Act and the adoption regulations framed by the Authority. 

(3) Nothing in this Act shall apply to the adoption of children made under the provisions of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. 

(8)Prohibition on disclosure of identity of children –  No report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or audio-visual media or other forms of communication regarding any inquiry or investigation or judicial procedure, shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particular, which may lead to the identification of a child in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection or a child victim or witness of a crime, involved in such matter, under any other law for the time being in force, nor shall the picture of any such child be published 

(9)Employment of child for begging – (1) Whoever employs or uses any child for the purpose of begging or causes any child to beg shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine of one lakh rupees: 

Provided that, if for the purpose of begging, the person amputates or maims the child, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than seven years which may extend up to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine of five lakh rupees. 

 Proceedings in case of a Juvenile  

In case of a juvenile, the child must be arrested by a child welfare police officer of a juvenile police unit, and should be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board within 24 hours of his/her arrest. 

The juvenile justice board consists of a Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate first class and 2 social workers (1 being a woman) 

In case the child above 16 years but below 18 years of age has committed   a heinous offense, he/she must be sent to Children’s court/Juvenile’s court (section 18 of JJ act). Once the child has attained the age of 21 years he/she can be sent to jail (section 20 JJ act) 

 Limitation period 

The board is empowered to inquire into heinous offences under section 15 of the said act. Such preliminary assessment has to be disposed off within a period of 3 months from the date of first production of the child before the board.                   

 

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