[Guest Post] Is Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 violative of Child Right Convention? by Vikas Rathore

A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started ...He will assume control of your cities, states, and nations. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities, and corporations...the fate of humanity in his hand.
                                   -Abraham Lincoln

The United Nations Convention on Rights of Child (CRC) was signed on 30 Nov. 1989, in New York City to provide a mechanism in International Law for protection of the Rights of Child in distress. This Convention is a human right treaty pertaining to the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. There is three optional Protocol to this treaty. India ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) in 1992.
The Convention defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen unless the age of majority is attained earlier under national legislation. 
As per Article 1 of UNCRC-
For the purpose of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, a majority is attained earlier.

Article 37 of UNCRC has laid a provision defining special status to a child below 18 years of age and states that,
      State shall ensure that:
(a) No child shall be subject to the torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below 18 year of age.
 India, after Delhi Rape case 2012, brought in many major changes in the criminal justice system including amendments regarding the age of Juvenile offenders. When the juvenile convict was released by the court in case of Nirbhaya the decision was criticized by many people. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill introduced by Maneka Gandhi, Minister and Child Development, was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and assented by the President on 31 December 2015 to brought in JJ (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015.
The Juvenile Justice Act 2000 was replaced by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 with the same provisions to settle in the criticism brought in by Nirbhaya Judgement and to make strong the face of the criminal justice system in India. However, the same move was taken up by child rights activists and was taken up by jurists under the lense of above mentioned CRC and the special provision of Article 37 of CRC.
The new Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) under Section 15, allows minors in the age group of 16-18 to be treated as adults if they found guilty of any heinous crime. It is the duty of the Juvenile Justice Board to examine the crime that it was committed as a ‘child’ or ‘adult’.

Juvenile Justice Act 2015 –Not the Violation of UN Child Right Convention?
The Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 does not seem to be in violation of UNCRC. The United Nation Child Right Convention 1989 clearly state that a person is a child if he or she is under the age of 18 but society is subject to change and there are tremendous changes in the society as the passage of time. The crime rate done by the juveniles who belong to the age group of 16 to 18 year old has increased, so it becomes a need for the society to make special laws for the prevention of crime in the society specially done by juveniles who fall under the age group of 16 to 18 years.
The NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau) Report's data as given below supports the same aspect as well. In the year 2011, 64% of all juvenile criminals belongs to the age group of 16 to 18 year old and this crime rate further increased by 7.9% in the year 2012. There are a series of cases pertaining to heinous crimes in which juveniles offenders belonging to the age group of 'below 18 years', were found guilty -
  1.      The Nirbhaya Case
  2.      Shakti mills Gang Rape
  3.      Hatigaon Rape Case
  4.      Mayur Vihar Murder Case

      Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 doesn’t contravene the Article 37(a) of UNCRC but it is the change in the law to compete with the need of society and a step to cope with the problems pertaining to day by day the increasing the crime rate is done by the juveniles who fall under the age group of 16 to 18 years old. It will create fear for teenagers to not commit heinous crimes like rape murder etc. This Act works as a tool to prevent the crime rate in society as well as helpful for the youth of India. 

     Disclaimer: Views given here are personally of Authors and does not represent the views of MyLAWMAN or its officials, and does not in any way form/constitute legal advice. alert-info

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