Author :- Krasti Singh Chauhan
It would be safe to say that, both the words, Minor and Juvenile have almost the same meaning but they are separately used in two different contexts and inculpation. As adjectives the difference between juvenile and minor is that juvenile is young; not fully developed while minor is of little significance or importance. As nouns the difference between juvenile and minor is that juvenile is a prepubescent child while minor is a person who is below the legal age of majority, consent, criminal responsibility but but but in our legal fraternity a completely different dictionary is used and hence to understand the basic difference between the two with an eye of a legal bud, we must begin our journey by understanding the history of both of them. In a layman language a person under the age of full obligation and responsibility is a minor or a person who is below the legal age of eighteen years is a minor while a child being accused of crime is a juvenile offender and is tried as an adult in court proceedings. Juvenile either indicates immature people or young offenders.
“Minor” and “Juvenile” both are defined in various laws of India and other countries. For instance, in the Indian Majority Act, 1875 considered to be one of the oldest Indian Law to talk about minors, “defines the age of majority as 18 years, so a minor shall be a person below the age of 18 years” ; in the Indian Contract Act 1872, “a minor is a person who has not attained the age of 18 years, and hence he/she cannot be a party to a contract”. However, in modern era, the penal laws of most countries have adopted the principle of ‘doli incapax’, which means complete understanding of the fact that the act that they are committing is a crime. The penal laws also states that Only children 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 have attained 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 need of care and protection” means a child as 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.
Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
Research and Studies shows that there are various causes of juvenile delinquency in India. Every person has different behavioural patterns so as in case with children also.
Following are the some of the causes of Juvenile Delinquency:-
1. Adolescent Instability: The biological, psychological and sociological changes and influences are one of the important factors in the behaviour pattern of adolescents. At this stage, teenagers become more conscious about their appearances and fashions, enjoyment, food, play and etc. And at this age, they want freedom and they want to be independent but sometimes they are not given some freedom and opportunities by their parents, teachers and elders this leads to development of anti-social behaviour, biological changes, and psychological causes that becomes the reason which is responsible for juvenile delinquency.
2. Disintegration of Family System: Disintegration of family system and laxity in parental control is also the main cause of increasing rates of juvenile delinquency.
3. Economic Condition and Poverty: Poverty and poor economic condition is also considered as the major contributing factor of increasing juvenile crimes. As a result of poverty, parents or guardians fail to fulfil the needs of the child and at the same time children want that their desires should be fulfilled by parents by hook or by crook and when their desires are met they start indulging themselves in stealing money from homes or any other tactics. And this develops a habitual tendency of stealing which results in theft at large scales. Too much need of money also tends to parents forcing their small kids indulge into labour work to earn money which gives them an early access to this cruel world and they eventually in lack of proper guidance turn into inhabiting wrong habits and lifestyle.
4. Sex Indulgence: The children those who have experienced sexual assault or any other kind of unwanted physical contact in their early childhood may develop any kind of repulsiveness in their behaviour and mind, In this age they may become more vagrants or may want to have sex experience. Too much of sex variance may lead the boys towards the crime of kidnapping and rapes etc.
Juvenile Justice Act, 2000
In the year 2000, keeping in mind the various loopholes in the act of 1986, a special act was enacted called the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act 2000, which was further amended in the year 2015.
Further, the increasing number of cases of juvenile crimes in the last recent years and the frightful incident of “Delhi Gang Rape Case” has forced the law makers to come up with some solution. Hence this act was soon replaced by The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015.
Present Juvenile Justice System in India
The Juvenile Justice System in India is made on the basis of two main assumptions:-
1. Young offenders should not be tried in courts, rather they should be corrected in all the best possible ways,
2. 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.
Claim of Juvenility
The very first and most debatable question among the legal fraternity and socialists is the “claim of juvenility”. The claim of juvenility is to be decided by the Juvenile Justice Board. The Board has to decide the claim of juvenility before the court proceedings but the claim of juvenility can be raised before the court at any stage of proceedings and even after the disposal of the matter by the board. The Board had to consider Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007 in order to determine the claim of juvenility. In case of KulaiIbrahim v. State of Coimbatore it was observed by the court that the accused has the right to raise the question of juvenility at any point of time during trial or even after the disposal of the case under the Section 9 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
In the end, I would like to conclude that the terms minor and juvenile should not be kept concise only within their literal meaning, rather there is a major abstracted scenario behind it. With the development and modernization in today’s world, the norms and values of the society are also changing and everybody is affected with it and our children are not left untouched too. Hence it now becomes our moral duty to inculcate sense of responsibility, respect towards the opposite sex, feeling of courage and out rightness in them which as a result will majorly protect them from any sort of exposure to criminal and indecent psychology of people around. And in this way, a lot of children will be saved from committing crimes and then stand waiting for themselves to be convicted as either minor or juvenile.
“It is our duty to teach and preach a “Minor”
to protect a “juvenile” from an immoral environment and the life that propagates such indecency.”
Now, I am sure the meaning of the above two is very clear.