Dichotomy Between Legal And Social Juvenile Justice In India



Before any debate and discussion on the “implementation of Juvenile Justice” it is mandatory to understand who is Juvenile? What Juvenile Justice system is? Why we are discussing the issue? And why there is different mechanism of justice for juvenile especially when we have already a transparent and democratic justice system in a place?

Juvenile is a term used for a particular age group varying across the globe. In Indian context a juvenile is one belonging to the age group of 16-18.  This is the period of life when not only rapid biological transactions are taking place but socially and psychologically an individual has altogether a different experience, expectations and desires. Observations and interactions reveal that people belonging to this age group like to be different from others, love to take risks and violate established norms.   Consciously or unconsciously they deviate from both legal and social norms which are technically known as juvenile delinquency or juvenile offending.

It is interesting to know why this age group is prone or indulge in deviant acts. Researches across the globe have revealed that many social and psychological factors are responsible for juvenile delinquency. The roots of such a behavior are found at very micro level.

In USA, which is more democratic, liberal, open and educated as compared to India it has been observed that high proportion of youth experience arrest by their early than the past. In order words the juvenile delinquency in increasing. Scholars have identified causes of increasing juvenile deviance in the justice system.

In Indian context the situation is more alarming across the states. The reports show that not only there is increase in the crime but increase in the proportion of juvenile delinquency. Juvenile are found involved in almost all kinds of crimes like theft, murder, rape etc and their method of crime is very brutal and inhuman as compared to elders. The Nariabai rape and murder case is just one example in this regard.

My intention is not to highlight the figures and nature of crime but to drag attention towards the system of justice.

It is unfortunate when we talk about justice the picture of courts and legal institutions emerge in our mind, which I think is very injustice to the very concept of justice. Social justice is first and foremost issue in the very system of justice and most often root cause of injustice and crime.   The bridge between social and legal justice is the biggest challenge in our justice system.

Justice includes gestures, symbols and tone of an individual and matters a lot in the deliverance of justice. Our legal institutions and system will never be able to deliver justice unless we don’t understand the importance of social justice. For this we need to sensitize our social, political and legal institutions about juvenile justice because it is altogether a different issue and mechanism than dealing with other criminals.  In India we have Juvenile Justice (care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 in the place and according to the act persons in the age group of 16-18 involved in Heinous Offences cannot be tried as adults.

Many sociologists and psychologists have revealed that the very concept of justice is dishoured by the institutions of justice. A particular group is stigmatized and labeled as criminals which is not only injustice in itself, but closes the doors of rehabilitation of juvenile.

Dr Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, Faculty at the Department of Sociology,University of Kashmir Jammu and Kashmir, India


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