The Juvenile Justice System is a legal framework that specifically deals with the rights of Juveniles and their protection. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, is a key legislation of this system. The Act has a long history of evolution. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015 came into existence to bring the legislation at par with the contemporary ethos and to cope with the changing requirements.
The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Convention on the Rights of Child on 20th November 1989. Subsequently, India came up with a new act called “The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, repealing the erstwhile Juvenile Justice Act, 1986. This Act was later amended twice – first in the year 2006 and again in 2011. The amendments were made to address the gap and loopholes in the implementation. Finally, the Juvenile Justice act of 2015 replaced the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 because of the need for a more robust and effective justice system that focused on reformative approaches.
To sow the seeds for effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, the UT of Jammu and Kashmir launched the Integrated Child Protection Service (ICPS) in 2018. With the inception of ICPS, the Juvenile Justice Boards, Child Welfare Committees, District Child Protection Units, and Special Juvenile Police Units were set up in all the 22 districts of the UT. The Act emphasised a friendly approach towards juveniles and strictly ruled out detention and maltreatment of any juvenile below the age of 18.
To upgrade the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, the Union Cabinet in February 2021 approved amendments in the Act to introduce measures for strengthening Child Protection set-up to ensure the best interest of children. The district administrations were given a greater role to play in the implementation of the Act. It empowered district magistrates to monitor the functioning of agencies responsible for implementing the JJ Act. The amendments also authorised District Magistrates and Additional District Magistrates to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability. The District Magistrates will also independently evaluate the functioning of District Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards, Child Protection Units, and Child Care Institutes, carry out the background checks of CWC members/other staff, and will further supervise the norms and procedures followed by the child care institutes.
The amendments have come as a welcome step to strengthen the child protection mechanism in India and UT of Jammu and Kashmir as well. The district administrations are also expected to play the role effectively to create a deterrent effect on crimes against children and ensure that the mission is accomplished.
The writer works with Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) Baramulla. [email protected]