Updated: May 19, 2018
Children of today are the creators and shapers of a Nation’s tomorrow. It’s therefore, the responsibility of every society and every nation to nurture a strong, healthy and intellectual youth. It is the duty of the government to take strict actions to ensure the children’s development in the best possible manner.
In the year 1986 Juvenile Justice Act, was enacted by our parliament to provide delinquent or neglected juveniles protection, development, and rehabilitation. Section 2(a) of the JJ Act 1986 defines the juvenile as a "boy who has not attained the age of 16 years and a girl who has not attained the age of 18 years" later on the parliament amended the Juvenile Justice Act in 2000 and has raised the age bar to 18 years for both girls and boys. In 2015 after Nirbhaya’s case (in 2012) the amendment took place again which reduced the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years and permits the execution of juvenile of 16 years for heinous crimes, as an adult and could be tried by criminal courts for prosecuting and punishing as adults as per the gravity of the alleged offence.
But we should not forget the purpose behind the enactment of the Juvenile Justice Act. Its main idea is restorative and not retributive in nature, providing for rehabilitation and restoration of children who are in conflict with the law. Reducing the age to 16 is not a solution to the problem which the society is facing today but it will leave many categories of juveniles in danger who are really and genuinely in need of the protection of Juvenile Justice Law. The basic rule which should be followed and taken into consideration is that the plea of juvenility would be set aside and the juvenile will be tried in a criminal court if the crime committed by a minor is a heinous one. It should not be the age which is to be taken into consideration at the time of punishing the offender but the culpable mind which he possesses.
As per Law definition of a child, India doesn't have uniformity in various Acts’. In Indian Law, several Acts considers that a person above the age of 18 is an adult. But on the other hand some law says that a person below the age of 18 cannot enter into a business contract, a person can have consensual sex at 16 but cannot marry below the age of 18/21 and he can consume alcohol only at the age of 25. JJ Act 2015 defines an adult who has completed the age of 16. But what happens when a child of 10 years commits the same crime. Is he an adult or a child? Which court is having the jurisdiction to try such criminal? When can a person be considered as an adult in the true sense? It seems that for the commission of crime we have a different age limit and for other obligations, the age is different which makes the person guilty. So Am I Guilty?
As it is rightly said,
"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."