Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 replaced the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and allows for juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults. The Act also sought to create a universally accessible adoption law for India, overtaking the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956) (applicable to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs) and the Guardians and Wards Act (1890) (applicable to Muslims), though not replacing them. The Act came into force from 15 January 2016.

A revamped Juvenile Justice Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on 7 May 2015. The new bill will allow minors in the age group of 16-18 to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes. The crime will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to ascertain if the crime was committed as a ‘child’ or an ‘adult’.

Remarkable changes through introduction of the Act- juvenile under the age group of 16 to 18 years should be tried as an adult.

Definitions are provided under Section 2 of the Act.

Generally, a “child” means a person who has not attained the age of 18 years and is not mature to understand that what is right and wrong. In modern era, the penal laws of most countries have adopted the principle of ‘doli incapex’, which means of knowing that act there are committing is a crime. The penal laws also states that Only child between the age of seven to twelve age can be convicted, provided that, the act they have committed is a heinous crime and they have knowledge and has attained the sufficient knowledge to understand the consequences of their act.

According to sub-section 12 of Section 2 of The Juvenile (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 a “child” means a person who has not completed eighteen years of age. The Act classifies the term “child” into two categories: –

  • Child in conflict with law and
  • Child in need of care and protection.

The child who has committed an offence and he or she is under the age of 18 years on the date of commission of the offence is basically called as “child in conflict with law”. The second sub – category is “child in need of care and protection” means a child ad defined under Section 14 of the Act.

  • Children Act, 1960: Section 2(e) of the Act states “child” means a boy who has not attained the age of sixteen years or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years.
  • United Nations Convention: The UN Convention on the Rights of Child, 1989 defines that “child” means a human being below the age of eighteen years unless the law declaration applicable to child, majority is attained earlier.

There is a little difference in juvenile and minor. Minor implies young and teen persons (below the legal age) whereas juvenile either indicates immature person or young offenders.


The Juvenile Justice System in India is made on the basis of three main assumptions: –

  • young offenders should not be tried in courts, rather they should be corrected in all the best possible ways,
  • they should not be punished by the courts, but they should get a chance to reform
  • trial for child in conflict with law should be based on non-penal treatment through the communities based upon the social control agencies for e.g., Observation Homes and Special Homes.


Doctrine of “Doli Incapax”- this doctrine articulates criminal liability of the Juvenile. “When this doctrine is applied and interpreted with regards to the Indian Laws, the result it gives is that no Juvenile under or of the age of 7 years should be prosecuted for the commission of the crime.” — also see article 40 (3) (a) of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child.

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