The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was enacted to nullify the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. The new act includes the Juvenile Justice Board (under Section 4 of the Act) that comprises of psychologists and sociologists in order to decide whether the trial of offenders of age group 16-18 should be held as adult or not. Any juvenile accused of crime is presented before this board. It is a friendly space that focuses on rehabilitation of the child instead of punishing him/her. This article discusses about the concept of Juvenile Justice Board, its historical background, composition, powers and functions.
Keywords: Juvenile Justice Act, Rehabilitation, Juvenile, Juvenile Justice Board
Juvenile Justice Board was constituted under Section 4 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. As per this provision, the offenders under eighteen years of age are not taken to criminal court. The Schedule VII in the Indian Constitution states the subject matter of administration of criminal justice falls under List II, and therefore, more than one juvenile justice board is established in each district. To provide an intervening impact over Section 27 the Code of Criminal Procedure, a saving clause is included in Section 4.
The objective for the establishment of the special court was to hold a child guilty not by punishment, but through reformation and rehabilitation. It also aims to ensure that Article 39 (f) that provides “children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment” is protected. The constitution primarily focuses on safeguarding the children’s rights and that’s why, the state is responsible to do the same.
Constitution of JJ Board
The constitution of this board is defined under Section 4 (2) of the act. The bench possesses all the powers that are exercised by criminal court as under Code of Criminal Procedure. The members are selected by a selection committee that is headed by retired judge of High Court and comprises of:
- Principal Magistrate: A Judicial Magistrate First Class or Metropolitan Magistrate with an experience of three years can be appointed for this post. The person should not Chief Judicial Magistrate or Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.
- Social workers: Two social workers from whom, one must be a woman and have an active contribution of atleast seven years in the field of health, education or welfare activities concerning with children. A degree holder in child psychology, sociology, psychiatry or law, practising as a professional is appointed.
In the case of State of Himachal Pradesh v. Happy, the order was passed by a single magistrate without executing the standards necessary for functioning of the Juvenile Justice Board. It was held by the High Court that judgement provided by one member of the board is void ab initio.
Section 4(4) of the Act states the measures that disqualify a person from being part of this board. As per this, a person is not eligible for this, if he/she:
- Has been convicted of any offence under any law on the ground that involves moral turpitude and such conviction has not been granted forgiveness/pardon.
- Has any previous record of infringement of any Human or Child Rights.
- Was eliminated or dismissed from central or state government services or any corporation or undertaking held or managed by central or state government.
- Has been a part in the acts of child abuse, child labour, etc.
Training and Term of Office for Members:
Section 4(5) of the act makes the State Government accountable to provide training to all the members of Juvenile Justice Board. An induction training must be given to all within a time period of sixty days after the appointment.
Section 4(6) discusses regarding the term of office for members. It also discusses about the resignation of Board members. The basic tenure period is three years. However, members can also be appointed for consecutively for maximum two terms. The pay and allowances of Principal Magistrate is governed by the state government just like every other judicial officer.
Termination of the Members
Any board member, except the Principal Magistrate can be disqualified after being enquired by the State Government in case:
- He/she is found to misuse the authority assigned to him under this act.
- He/she failed to present in the Board meetings consecutively for more than duration of three months without any valid or appropriate reason.
- He/she became disqualified as per sub-section 4 during the working as a member.
- He/she failed to attend less than three-fourth proceedings in a whole year.
Placement of Persons:
- If any person terminates to be a child during the enquiry: If an enquiry is initiated for the offence done by the child under this act, and the child completes eighteen years of age during such enquiry, in such case, the enquiry can be continued even after the completion of age and orders can be passed on the basis of considering the person as child.
- If the person was below the age of 18 years when the offence was committed: If the person who has completed eighteen years of age, and is arrested for perpetration of offence when he was below eighteen years of age, then he/she should be regarded as a child during the time he/she is inquired. If the person is not given bail, then the board is responsible to provide them a safe place at the time of inquiry process and they must be treated by following the procedure prescribed by law.
Powers and Functions of the Board:
The Juvenile Justice Board, under the act, has the power to hear the proceedings in the area of jurisdiction of the board and in issues related to children who are in dispute with the law. The same powers can also be exercised by the High Courts or Children’s courts in matters of appeal or revision under Section 19. In the case of Hasham Abbas Syyed v. Usman Abbas Sayyad , it was clarified that an order given by Magistrate beyond his own jurisdiction will be considered invalid.
The board shall exercise its power to hold an inquiry as per the provisions of the act, when the alleged child is in conflict with the law. It may also pass orders are prescribed under Section 17 and 18 of the JJ Act, 2015. In the issues of heinous offences provided in Section 15, the board carries out the power to inquire. This primary assessment must be completed within the duration of three months from the date of production of child firstly in before the board. The Juvenile Justice Board has the sole power to fix regarding whether the committed offence is heinous or not as held in Puneet S. v. State of Karnataka.
Following are the functions of the board:
- To provide the information about the participation of children and parent or guardian in proceedings.
- Ensure that children’s rights are protected in the whole process of inquiry, arrest and rehabilitation.
- To provide a translator or interpreter if the child fails to understand the language at the time of proceedings.
- Disposing or ending case as per the process mentioned mention under Section 14 of the act.
- Any other function if prescribed to the board.
It is mandatory that no children should be kept in the jail regardless of circumstances.
According to traditional law, the offenders were provided with very strict and cruel punishments. The practice of keeping juveniles with criminals in jail led to problems in the society. These children are involved in offences because of factors like poverty, unemployment, lack of parental control, etc. The new laws focused on responding on these factors by rehabilitating them. Instead of treating them as criminals, the concentration is on providing them care and protection. The juvenile justice board is an appreciable step to deal with children in conflict of law in such a manner that they are integrated as a part of society in near future.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is the meaning of Juvenile Justice Board?
- Under which Act, the JJ board was constituted?
- What is the composition of JJ Board?
- What are the powers and functions that are exercised by this board?
- How it has affected the punishment criterion for children?
- Shodhganga: Chapter three, (Apr. 2017), Juvenile Deliquency In India And Karnataka, [online]
- Hemant More, (Apr. 22nd 2020), Juvenile Justice Board, [online]
- Kavya, (Aug. 18th 2019), Juvenile Justice Board: Adult Offences, [online]