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Post at: Aug 19 2021

Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill, 2021

Why in News?

  • On July 28, 2021 the Rajya Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2021, thereby amending the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

Who is a Juvenile in India

  • The Juveline Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 defines 'Juvenile' or 'Child' as a person who has not completed 18 years of age.

Important Amendments by the Bill

  • Under the 2021 Bill, serious offences will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is less than seven years. Under the 2015 Act, serious offences were only those for which punishment is imprisonment between three to seven years.
  • The offences punishable with imprisonment between three to seven years will now be non-cognizble that is arrest is not allowed without prior approval of court.
  • The 2021 Bill states that the adoption of child is final on the issuance of an adoption order by the district magistrate (including additional district magistrate)
  • All offences under the 2015 Act to be tried in children's court.
  • Specifies certain addition criteria to make members of Child Welfare Committee (CWC) ineligible if he/she :

(i) has any record of violation of human rights or child rights.
(ii) has been convicted of an offerce involving moral turpitude and such conviction has not been reversed.
(iii) has been removed or dismissed from service of the central government, or an undertaking owned by the government or
(iv) is a part of the management of a child care institution in a district.

Need of the Amendment

  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Right (NCPCR) audit in 2020 found that Child Care Institutions (CCIs), 90% of which are run by NGOs, were not registered, even after the implemention of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
  • Rehabilitation of children is not priority for childcare homes and children are reportedly kept in such insttutions to get funds.
  • NCPCR also found that not a single Child Care Institution (CCI) in the country is 100% compliant to the provisions of JJ the Act and children are living in unsanitary conditions.

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

  • The Act replaced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
  • The Act changed the nomenclature from 'juvenile' to 'child' or 'child in conflict with law' It also removed the negative connotation associated with the word Juvenile.
  • the Act clearly defined abandoned and surrendered children ; and petty, serious and heinous offences committed by children.
  • It included special provisions to tackle child offenders commutting heinous offences in the age group of 16-18 years.
  • It mandated setting up of the Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both the board and the committee must have at least one women as a member.

A Beard Shall Consist of :

  • (1) A Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of First class not being chief metropolitan Magistrate or chief Judicial Magistrate with at least 3 years of experience.
  • (2) two social workers, of whom at least one shall be a woman. 
  • A new chapter was provided to streamline adoption procedures for an orphan. Abandoned and surrendered children.
  • The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) was granted the status of a statutory body
  • According to the Act, the adoption of a child is final on the issuance of an adoption order by the court.
  • It was also made mandatory for all child care institutions (government or run by NGOs) to register within six months from the date of commencement of the Act.

Way Forward :

  • The Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill 2021 is the need of the hour because of the suitable changes it provides to the JJ Act. The new provisions are expected to solve the issue of long pendency of cases. Child care, adoption and protection are quite sensitive issues and must be handled in such way that it does not affect the children negatively.

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