After amendments to the Juvenile Justice Law, is India in violation of the Child Rights Convention?

The United Nations Convention on Child Rights defines a ‘child’ as any human being under the age of 18 years and thereby forbids any capital punishment inflicted on them. Article 37 (a) obliges all the member countries to prohibit as well as eliminate corporal punishment, including any other form of punishment that is cruel and degrading in nature on children below 18 years. 

The increased public pressure post the horrific Delhi Gang rape case (Nirbhaya case), led to the amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of Children) Act, 2000 act. The amended act (Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015) proposes the trail of juveniles in the age group of 16 to 18 years, who are involved in horrifying crimes and offences.

Indian Juvenile Act – Violation of the UN Convention on Child Rights

India ratified the convention in the year 1992, and after introducing these new amendments to the Justice Juvenile Act, 2015, it is contravening the said part of UN Convention by not treating all the children equally as mandated, under the age of 18. Thus the amended act stands in complete violation to the UN Convention on Child Rights. 

Implications of the amended Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 on Child rights

  • Adolescents who are in the age of 14 to 17 are still not mature enough to be considered as adults. But, the introduction of this new Juvenile Justice Act is reducing the age of juvenile by treating their act of engaging in high risk crimes under Indian Penal Code. 
  • The enactments have been construed on growing misconceptions, un-consolidated statistics and public pressure. There is a misconception that a large proportion of juvenile population is accused of committing rapes. 
  • Psychologists and Neuro-scientists inform that this phase of age undergoes numerous changes in body and mind which includes physiological, hormonal, emotional as well as structural changes.  Amendments will misdirect the thought process of children in the age of 16-18 and close the doors of their better reformation. 
  • The proposed enactment is going to affect India’s international reputation and its committed vision to contribute in making the world a safe place.  
The need of the hour is to create a reformative environment for adolescent but the Act has been criticized and opposed by several women right groups, NGOs working on child rights, Pro-child Network etc. on the ground that it  is disadvantageous to the rights of Indian children especially children from poor societies or illiterate families.

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