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Should a Juvenile be Tried as an Adult? Here’s All you Need to Know - UPSC Current Affairs

Aug 10, 2022

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Probable Question

About the Law on Trying a Juvenile as an Adult

Treating a Juvenile as an Adult

JJB’s Call in absence of any guidelines to try the child as an adult

Juvenile be tried as an Adult


The Supreme Court (SC) has recently asked the central government, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), and the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) to assist and facilitate the Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) in determining whether a juvenile should be tried for a heinous offense as an adult.

Also, read our yesterday’s edition of Current Affairs on the Har Ghar Tiranga Campaign and Flag Code of India

Probable Question

Recently the Supreme Court of India asked the central government to draft guidelines for determining whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult in cases of heinous offenses. Critically comment on the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015. 

About the Law on Trying a Juvenile as an Adult

  • In 2015, the Lok Sabha passed a revamped Juvenile Justice Bill.
  • It allowed minors of 16-18 years old to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes, for which the minimum punishment is 7 years imprisonment.
  • Section 15 of The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act) says;
    • The JJB is required to “conduct a preliminary assessment with regard to his mental and physical capacity to commit a heinous offense.
    • Assessment should be done within 3 months from the date of the first production of the child before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB). 
  • As per the apex court, the JJB would have to mandatorily seek the assistance of experts, in case it doesn’t comprise a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or child psychiatry.
  • Imprisonment: If the child is tried as an adult, the sentence can go up to life imprisonment, whereas for a juvenile, the maximum sentence is only 3 years in a special home.

Treating a Juvenile as an Adult

The cases of committing a heinous crime by a minor of 16-18 years, must be transferred to the children’s court, which decides;

  • Under Section 19 of the Juvenile Justice Act whether there is a need for a trial of the child as an adult.
  • It ensures that the child in conflict will only be transferred to jail, once he/she reaches the age of 21, before it, they must be sent to a “place of safety”.
  • It can order the conditional release of the child after the age of 21 years. 

JJB’s Call in absence of any guidelines to try the child as an adult

  • The Supreme Court said that physical maturity, cognitive abilities, and social and emotional competencies, should be considered to determine a child as an adult. 
  • It is of the view that mental capacity should not be equated with an understanding of the consequences of the offense, as they are likely to be influenced by emotion rather than reason.
  • The “consequences” as per Section 15 of the Act would not just be confined to the immediate consequence, but also the far-reaching consequences in the future.
Additional Information

The Juvenile Justice Board is an institutional body constituted under Section 4 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.

The  Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) is composed of a judicial officer and two social workers.

The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute for a district or a group of districts, one or more Juvenile Justice Boards.

It should be constituted for exercising the powers and discharging the duties conferred in relation to Juveniles in conflict with law under the JJ Act, 2015.

News Source: The Indian Express

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