Juvenile Delinquency 


How weird it would be for us to find a child involved into unlawful act. What could be the real reason for such unlawful activity of the child. How is the child getting these ideas to commit such wrongful act. As we all know the development of the country relies on the future generation. We have also heard that children are an asset for the country as the development of the nation is completely in the hands of future generation. Therefore, it is necessary to have proper framework which will help in building a desired nation. The children should be provided with conducive environment to help build a desired nation. As children are not mature enough to decide the right and wrong and are not aware of the world outside. The nature and etiquette in the children completely depend upon the upbringing of the child and the environment in which he/she is living. The environment in which they are developed provide with two options those are firstly either the child would be an asset to the nation in the sense that he is well mannered and disciplined whereas second option could be he could be a person who is accepted in the society in the sense that he is not doing those lawful acts accepted by the society. So, it is important for us to throw a light on the topic of juvenile delinquency. There are various laws which provide protection to children of tender age.

Who is Juvenile 

The term juvenile is denoted to children who have completed the age of 18 years. It has been defined under section2(h) of Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 which says that a child who has not completed the age 16 years in case of males and 18 years in case of females. In India a child who has done a crime but is under the age of 7 is not punished under any law this called the doctrine of Doli Incapax. The principle of Doli incapax is a Latin word which means a person who is not capable enough to commit a crime. This is based on the reasoning that the punishment should only be given those who have an intent of doing a crime, the children who below the age 7 lacks mental development to find what is right and wrong as they do not know the consequences of their actions due to their tender age. Section 82 and 83 of IPC deals with absolute immunity and qualified immunity respectively. 


It is a kind of abnormality in which a person below the age of 18 years commits an anti- social work or commits a criminal act. In simple words delinquency is a criminal offence. The word may have varying meaning according to the varying jurisdiction. The reason behind different meaning of the word could due to different historical or cultural factors and they may be underpinned by religious laws. There are those criminal offences which are considered as crime such as theft and serious interpersonal violence, etc. Section 2 (e) of Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 defines delinquency as antisocial or criminal behaviour committed by a person who is below the age of 18 years. It affects the legal position of criminal justice system.

Crime is an unlawful act against the society. The law has prescribed certain standard of conduct which are to be observed by people in society. In case of any deviation from these norms and standards it is termed as unlawful. Basically, crime is said to be an act which is forbidden by law and against moral sentiments of society. Such as robbery, theft, murder, forgery, cheating, etc.

Juvenile Delinquency

In the Middle Ages juvenile delinquency was an act devil/ demon. Deviant acts were result of the battle between God and evil. Individuals who committed crimes were possessed by the devil. The solution involved exorcising the devil and delivering the individual back to God. 

The term juvenile delinquency is used in academic literature. It means an act  done by minor which is unlawful. It is disapproved behaviour of the children where they tend to show criminal behaviour. In simple words it means deviation from society’s approved norms and laws where children indulge in anti- social activities. The behaviour of the children may include cruelty to people or animals, truancy, and severe temper tantrums, excessive fighting or bullying, fire setting, etc. The crimes which are part of juvenile delinquency are leaving house without the permission of parents, habitual behaviour beyond the control of parents, use of vulgar language, committing sexual crime, visiting gambling centres. Juvenile delinquency occurs when minor violates criminal statute. Different procedure to try the criminal offence for crimes done by minor in comparison to adults. All states have juvenile courts and detention facilities. 

The term was defined as, “Acts of minors due to which they violate criminal law and indulge in behaviour which is objected to and disapproved by society and law society’s approved norms”. The Juvenile justice system ensures that juvenile is dealt accordingly and focus more on rehabilitating a juvenile by working with them in their home, the community and school. 

Causes of juvenile delinquency 

As we all know that children are very delicate and they are mould themselves according to the situations and the kind of environment we provide them. Since the children are not aware of the act which they are doing whether it is correct or not. Since children do what they see and what they see they try to do those acts. So, now it is the responsibility of parents to give their children such a well- mannered and disciplined environment to make them a good citizen which are acceptable by society. Some of the most important reasons of juvenile delinquency are- 

  1. Rational choice: – From the behavioural studies done by various psychologist it has come to the notice that the delinquent children do these acts based on their own decision or they do illegal act because they want to do it out of their will and doing so, they do not find anything wrong. For example, a teenager who steals a smartphone from a shop and he believes that by doing so he will get financial gain or get social status in society. Additionally, he believes that the benefits will out way the risk of being caught and facing punishment.
  2. Family influence: – Any child who has a very weak attachment with the parents or family tend to indulge in inappropriate activity including delinquent act. The child can do such acts when he/she is neglected or is abused emotionally, physically, psychologically.
  3. Psychological problems and low self- esteem: – A child who is facing repeated rejection from his peers or family members which develops a feeling frustration, isolation, and worthlessness. This factor can lead the child to engaged in risky and criminal behaviour to cope up with his emotions and seek the attention of others. 
  4. Bad company: – As we all know a person by the company he keeps. Any juvenile knowingly or unknowingly remains in a bad company this company can motivate the child to indulge in criminal activities. 
  5. Atmosphere at home: – This is the most essential element or we can say a game changing point. Since children do what they see at home. It the home is always having fighting amongst each other, ill behaviour by the step mother, not respecting the opinion of others, using foul language towards other this will get embrace in the mind of the child to do those acts which are not approved by society.
  6.   Effect of TV, Internet, social media: – This is also very essential element which is leading to the delinquency by children since there are sexual content and other violent acts available which influence the child to commit inappropriate act. There are sexual explicit and drug related content are portrayed on various social media which can normalise these content.

One such example of such juvenile delinquent activity was shown in the case Mukesh and another v. State for NCT of Delhi and others this case is famously known as Nirbhaya rape case in this case one of the rapists was a juvenile.

Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency 

Some of the preventive ways to reduce juvenile delinquency are: 

  1. By engaging children in socially and legally usual activities. For example, a community centre which provides after school services such as sports team, art classes by participating in such activities which provides an outlet of their energy. This avoids the children from being involved in any criminal activity. Additionally, being part of such activities there will sense of belonging and purpose which help them avoid the feeling of isolation or from being neglected.
  2. Family interaction and interventions in shaping the life of the child. If the child comes from a family where the parents are usually absent or are abusive such child is more likely involve in delinquent behaviour. If such family is given counselling or any other incentive is given to improve their interaction is given which will create a supportive and stable environment for the child reducing the likelihood of delinquency.
  3. Education and awareness programme for parents. If a programme helps in educating the parents by providing them monitoring their child online activities or talking to child about drugs and alcohol can help in preventing delinquent behaviour.
  4. Parent child interaction. 
  5. The school should provide comprehensive anti-bullying programme through which empathy, kindness, respect knowledge is provided to the children and this additionally will provide them clear consequence for bulling behaviour. This would help in preventing the bullying behaviour.


The main reason behind giving treatment to the child not to punish, not to take revenge upon the delinquent. The purpose behind this is by providing guidance and training the child can become normal and not repeat such delinquent acts.

  1. Whenever is child is apprehended under the act the child is kept in remand room and certain studies is done by the trained social workers like what was the reason behind such act, what were those circumstances which compelled him to do such act. 
  2. Child is provided with educational, vocational, and recreational facilities. 
  3. Courts call for the report of probation officer on child’s home and environmental condition. This report provides the information about the living condition which elevate the child’s delinquent behaviour. 
  4. Establishment of training schools when child fails to make proper adjustment during probation, child is sent to such certified training schools.

Case laws 

There are many land mark case laws related to juvenile delinquency and one such case is the case of Sheela Barse v. Union of India (1986) in this case a petition sought to release the children under the age of 16 from state jails and information on juvenile facilities. The Supreme Court responded by directing Judicial Magistrates to inspect all jails and shelters and report within a week. The key issue was potential abuse and mistreatment. The Supreme Court emphasized that confining children like adult criminals harms their development. It issued these directives:

  • Implement the Children Act, 1960.
  • Maintain jail manuals diligently.
  • Judges must visit prisons bi-monthly.
  • Ensure children benefit from jail manuals.

In the case of Hari Ram v. State of Rajasthan (2009) in this case since Hari Ram was convicted of multiple offence the issue was that whether should he treated as adult or juvenile according to the age at the time of crime. So, Additional Sessions Judge found him to be under 16 years old, referring his case to the Juvenile Justice Board. However, the High Court, relying on his father’s testimony and medical reports, determined he was over 16 and excluded him from juvenile status. The 2000 Act, which increased the juvenile age limit to 18, was relevant in this case. The Supreme Court decided that all pending cases should be judged according to the 2000 Act, thus considering Hari Ram a juvenile.

In Jarnail Singh v. State of Haryana (2013) in this case the accused was charged with abducting the prosecutrix and committing forcible sexual intercourse. She was found at his house during the investigation, leading to a ten-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine by the sessions court. The accused appealed, claiming the prosecutrix enticed him and stayed with him willingly, and argued she was proven to be a minor. The Supreme Court ruled that the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007, for determining a juvenile’s age, also apply to cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

In Re Contagion of COVID-19 virus in Children’s Protection Homes (2020) A writ petition was filed for the protection of children in observation, juvenile, and shelter homes during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Supreme Court issued these directives:

  1. Child welfare committees must ensure children’s health and safety.
  2. Coordinate with district child protection and foster/adoption committees to track children sent home.
  3. Establish online help desks and support systems.
  4. Monitor and prevent violence and sexual harassment.
  5. Juvenile Justice Board to take proactive measures against virus spread.
  6. Speedy disposal of cases via online sittings.
  7. Provide counselling sessions for children in observation homes.
  8. Inform child care institutions about necessary measures.
  9. Ensure adequate staffing and trained volunteers on a rotational basis.
  10. Ensure diligent performance of duties by all officers and functionaries.
  11. Provide quality face masks, sanitizers, hygiene products, and proper sanitation.
  12. Educate children about virus spread and precautions.
  13. Maintain social distancing.
  14. Quarantine symptomatic individuals immediately.
  15. Update foster families on virus prevention.
  16. Monitor the health and safety of foster families and children.
  17. Encourage children to engage in fun and intellectual activities to reduce stress and anxiety.


So, at the end it is very important to determine the correct and proper age to call a child as juvenile. Since in today’s time the child are developing very fast in terms of mental development due to the technological advancement and use of internet which provides the information in just few clicks so it is very important for judiciary to look into the present scenario to determine the age for child to be considered as juvenile and be remitted form any criminal liability. Due to the easy access children are getting impatient which is one of the causes of delinquency so, children should be involved in such activating which in very engaging and makes them use their energy in productive aspect. In today’s time people want to take revenge as soon as something is done to them, they do not even want to give the situation a second chance to think and introspect about the situation. People want to give more pain in comparison to the pain they have received. So, it is the need of the hour to provide children with such activity which makes them calm, being loved, confident, communicating their feelings could help in reducing juvenile delinquency. Children are an asset for the nation so they should be nurtured well and provided the desired environment for proper development.

Frequently Asked questions

  1. Who is a child?

Ans. The act defines child under section 2 of the act as person who has not completed the age of 18 years.

  1. Why do we have different act for children who has done an offence?

Ans. The reason behind having separate laws for dealing with the offences committed by juvenile is that children are of tender age and they are not aware of the consequences of their act so it would be unjust for the children to give them severe punishment and this will also ruin their childhood also would hamper in their development.

  1. Who deals with the cases of juvenile delinquency?

Ans.   Juvenile Justice Board deals with the acts done by children.

  1. How is the juvenile justice system different form that of an adult?

Ans. The aim of providing justice to juvenile is different from that of an adult. The goal of juvenile justice system is to re-habilitate and only give punishment in case of severe crime done by them whereas the aim of adult justice system Is to punish the offender. 

  1. What are the rights which are provided to juveniles?

Ans. The rights which are provided to the accused of juvenile delinquency are right to get lawyer, right to remain silent, right to speedy trial, right of fair trial, right to file an appeal, etc.

  1. How to review the case of juvenile?

Ans. The case of juvenile can be reviewed by contacting juvenile lawyer.

  1. What are the causes of juvenile delinquency?

Ans. The various reason which have come out from the various studies shows following reason for juvenile delinquency those are less of interaction with parents, atmosphere at home, lack of self- esteem, access to TV, media, and internet, etc are the major causes of it. 

Author: Riddhi Garg , a Student of Kurukshetra University

Juvenile Delinquency 

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