THE JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN) ACT OF 2000
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJCPA) was passed in 2000, and it continues to emphasize the welfare model, focusing on protecting children and providing care, rehabilitation, education, and vocational training. Additional features included replacing the word “delinquent juvenile” with the term “juvenile in conflict with law” and “neglected juvenile” with the term “child in need of care and protection.” The term “arrest” was replaced with “apprehension” (Gupta 2015) to avoid any stigma attached to those words. Further, the term “juvenile courts” was replaced with “Juvenile Justice Boards” (JJBs) and “juvenile welfare boards” (JWBs) was replaced with “Child Welfare Committees” (CWCs). The Act also included a provision for adoption based on the child’s consent, removed gender and age discrimination regarding court jurisdiction (below 18 years for both boys and girls), emphasized rehabilitation and resocialization of children in conflict with the law, and recommended minimal formal intervention by the police and correctional authorities.
The JJCPA allowed greater involvement of voluntary organizations in the juvenile justice process by enabling them to compile social investigation reports and run observation homes, juvenile homes, children’s homes, and shelter homes (Srinivasan 2010). For the first time, the JJCPA recognized the need to create a special home (for children in conflict with the law) for different age groups—girls above age 10 and boys 11-15 and 16-18 years—for the purpose of keeping younger juveniles separate from more mature juveniles (Kethineni and Braithwaite 2014: 314). Furthermore, special homes that house adjudicated juveniles have to meet the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Chakraborty, n.d.).
Amendments to JJCPA. The JJCPA has been amended in 2006, 2011, and 2015. The 2006 amendment clarified the definitions of “adoption,” “adoptive parents,” and “child in need of care and protection.” For example, a child in need of care and protection includes children who are begging, street children, or working children without a home or any other means of support. It also clearly stipulates that each state government may constitute a JJB in each district within one year from the date of the commencement of the Amendment Act. Also, the bill mandated the creation of state and district-level child protection units. These units are obligated to monitor the implementation of the Act.
The 2011 amendment was specifically geared toward juveniles or children who are mentally ill or addicted to alcohol or drugs held in special homes, observation homes, children’s homes, or shelters. If children show behavioral changes due to their addiction or illness, such children may be sent to a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home in accordance with the Mental Health Act (1987). Furthermore, after the children were discharged from these facilities, the state government may send these children to an integrated rehabilitation center for addicts or an inpatient treatment center (for mentally ill children only; Bhasin 2011).
The 2015 amendment, which came into force in January 2016, incorporated significant changes to the existing legislation. The provisions include providing proper training for police assigned to the juvenile unit; trying older juveniles (16-18 years old) as adults for committing heinous offenses; creating JJBs and CWCs in every district (i.e., county); expanding aftercare services; instituting guidelines for adoption and adoptive parents; and introducing foster care for children who are abandoned, orphaned, or in conflict with the law. Also, the Act has emphasized fundamental principles such as presumption of innocence, best interest of the child, equality and nondiscrimination, procedural justice, right to dignity and worth, right to be heard and to participate in all proceedings, right to privacy and confidentiality, promoting well-being of the child, and use of insti- tutionalizating as a last resort (The Gazette of India 2016).