Trial of child as an adult – No need for Child right activists to panic *

The primary Objectives of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 which is passed by Rajya Sabha on 22nd December 2015  is  to give to the nation a comprehensive law dealing with the  children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.  The Bill proposes to change the law as per the   standards prescribed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules  for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 (the Beijing Rules), the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990), the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption (1993) etc.
Section 16 of the Bill provides that,  if a child who has completed or is above the age of 16 years commits a heinous offence then the Juvenile Board shall conduct a preliminary inquiry regarding –
  •  The mental and physical capacity of the child  to commit such heinous offence.
  • The ability of child to understand the consequences of the offence
  • Circumstances under which the offence was committed

Section 19(3)  provides that, if the Juvenile Board on preliminary inquiry concludes  that there is need for further trial of the child who has committed heinous offence, it can order for transfer of the trial of the case to Children’s Court.

After receiving preliminary inquiry from Juvenile Board for further trial of the child who has committed heinous offence, The Children’s Court  has been given two options,  they are:

  • The Children’s court may conclude that  there is no need for trial of the child as an adult and conduct an inquiry as a Board
  • If the Children’s Court accepts the conclusion of Juvenile Board for further  trial of child as an adult then the Court shall conduct the trial as per provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973

Children’s Court in the trial of  child as an adult can pass appropriate order subject to the restriction that the child shall not be sentenced to death or for imprisonment for life without the possibility of release.

The provisions in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 has given wide discretionary power to both the Juvenile Board as well as Children’s Court to decide as to the  need for trial of a child as an adult. Further  the Restrictions as to kinds of sentence that can be pronounced against juvenile  ensures that the juvenile and adult convicts  are not  dealt alike. The new legislation  enables the legal system to deal with cases where heinous offence is committed by  juvenile when he has enough maturity of mind.

*Jaihanuman H.K.

Assistant Professor

K.L.E. society’s Law College