Understanding Juvenile Justice and the Role of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

Author :- Shreya Srivastava, a student at University of Allahabad 


Juvenile justice is a system designed to handle and consider legal cases having minors who have committed crime. The first principle of juvenile justice was that young people can be changed and should not be simply punished – but rather they should be given education and allowed to be reformed. The juvenile justice system in India has been continued through the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 which helps to provide care, protection, treatment, development, and rehabilitation of children who are in eyes of law and those in need of care and protection.

Historical Context of Juvenile Justice in India

Before we get to know the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 in deep, let us understand the evolution of juvenile justice in India. In earlier time, children who did crimes were treated as if they were adults or similar to them. After The Indian Penal Code of 1860 diagnosed the importance of treating them in another way, it is performed best after the enactment of the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986, a separate legal framework for juveniles changed into set up. This Act became later changed through the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which aligned extra intently with worldwide requirements, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), to which India is a signatory.

Key Provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, Introduced several new concepts to the juvenile justice system in India. Here are some of its key provisions:

  1. Definition and Classification: The Act defines a juvenile as any person who is below the age of 18. However, it introduces a brand-new class for serious offenses, where juveniles between 16-18 whether he or she may be considered as adults if the crime done is of a particularly serious nature, such as murder or rape.
  1. Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs): The Act makes it mandatory for the establishment of Juvenile Justice Boards in each district where these are lower courts for trial of juvenile cases. These boards include a judicial magistrate and two social workers, with at least one woman, to ensure a balanced point of view in handling juvenile cases.
  1.  Child Welfare Committees (CWC): The Act also makes it compulsory for the formation of Child Welfare Committees to address the needs of children in need of care and protection. CWCs are ultimate body to decide regarding the care, protection, treatment, development, and rehabilitation of such children.
  1.  Adoption: The Act helps to simplify and to streamline or ease the adoption process, ensuring transparency and accountability. It introduces a centralized adoption resource authority to regulate adoption process within the country and outside the country, ensuring the best interests of the child are prioritized.
  1.  Rehabilitation and Social Integration: The Act mentions about the importance of rehabilitation and social integration of juveniles. It makes it compulsory for the establishment of observation homes, special homes, and places of safety to provide care and protection to juveniles during the trial period and post-adjudication Period.
  1.  Foster Care: The Act promotes foster care instead of institutional care as a new family environment will facilitate the overall development of children.
  1. Sponsorship and Aftercare Programs: It is designed to provide support system for those children who have turned 18 and are in the process of the juvenile justice system, ensuring that they have the necessary resources and support to mix in the society without any problem.

The Role and Impact of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, plays a pivotal role in shaping the juvenile justice system in India. Here are some of its key impacts:

  1. Balancing Rehabilitation and Deterrence: This can be considered as one of the major impacts of the Act in trying to balance rehabilitation with prevention. Even though it admits the seriousness of certain crimes by considering juveniles aged between 16-18 to be tried as adults for serious offenses, it also considers the scope or the potential for rehabilitation.
  1. Enhanced Accountability and Transparency in Adoption: Adoption is now truly visible in India which makes the system more responsive, unlike earlier days when adoption used to secretive due to a lot of corruption. As a result, the number of adoptions has increased and it ensures that the child’s interests are always put first.
  1. Strengthened Institutional Framework: The current situation of JJBs and CWCs has strengthened the institutional mechanisms governing juvenile cases, thereby under shadowing the importance of innovation. These organizations ensure that juvenile cases are dealt with sensitivity and that they should do their complete focus on rehabilitation as a remedy to punishment.
  1. Promotion of Non-Institutional Care: The Act shows the importance of non-institutional care by selling foster care and sponsorship applications. This method accepts that a family surroundings is more beneficial for the improvement and rehabilitation of children in comparison to institutional care.
  1. Focus on Aftercare and Social Integration: The Act’s provision for aftercare applications shows the importance of assisting and helping the juveniles as they go out the complete justice system. This whole thing on aftercare guarantees that juveniles have the essential assist to socialise back into the society and decreases the likelihood of repetition of the same crime.

Challenges and Criticisms

While the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, has brought about significant improvements in the juvenile justice system, it is not without its challenges and criticisms:

  1. Adult Trial of Juveniles: The provision allowing juveniles aged sixteen-18 to be tried as adults for heinous offenses has been arguable. Critics argue that this contradicts the principle of youth justice, which emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment. The important issue is that trying juveniles as adults can also result in harsher sentences without considering their ability to reform.
  1. Implementation Gaps: Despite the effective framework furnished with the aid of the Act, there are giant gaps in its implementation. Many JJBs and CWCs are understaffed and absence good enough sources, which hampers their potential to function effectively.
  1. Over-reliance on Institutionalization: While the Act promotes non-institutional care, there may be nonetheless an over-reliance on institutionalization. Many kids emerge as in commentary homes or unique houses for prolonged periods, which can adversely effect their mental and emotional well-being.
  1. Inadequate Aftercare Support: The provision for aftercare packages is praiseworthy, however in practice, those applications are often underfunded and lack complete support services. This could make juveniles more prone whilst exiting the justice system.
  1. Stigma and Social Reintegration: Juveniles who were convicted regularly face good amount of stigma, discrimination and stereotype, which could restrict their socialisation. The Act does no longer sufficiently deal with the societal attitudes and prejudices that these juveniles encounter.

Future Directions

To address the challenges and criticisms of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, several measures can be taken:

  1. Strengthening Rehabilitation Programs: There is a very important need to make the rehabilitation programs strong and ensure that they are available to all juveniles as these programmes are essential in determining their futures. This includes giving them mental counselling, vocational education, and educational help to facilitate their socialisation.
  1. Enhancing Resource Allocation: The required and important assets must be allotted or given to JJBs, CWCs, and the aftercare packages should also be given to make sure they could function efficaciously. This includes providing schooling and support to staff to deal with juvenile cases with the sensitivity and care required.
  1. Promoting Awareness and Reducing Stigma: The required efforts must be made to promote awareness about the importance of young justice and to reduce the stereotypes associated with the juveniles that are convicted. This can include public recognition campaigns and network applications to develop more supportive surroundings for juveniles.
  1. Revisiting the Provision for Adult Trials: The provision making juveniles to be tried as adults for serious offenses need to be revisited. A greater and well-maintained method that considers the character and the situations of every case and the capacity for rehabilitation needs to be adopted.
  1. Expanding Non-Institutional Care Options: More importance has to be located on increasing non-institutional care options, which includes foster care and network-based rehabilitation packages. This will provide juveniles with a good supportive environment for his or her improvement. 


The passing of The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, is a significant landmark in the evolution of the juvenile justice system in India. Rather than punishment, it takes a more wholistic approach to juvenile cases by focusing on rehabilitation, care and safety. But this calls for addressing the system’s operational challenges and ensuring support with the required number of resources. With a good approach and a firm commitment to confirm children’s rights and welfare, India’s juvenile justice can thus be transformed into a model that seeks not only retribution but rehabilitation— providing juveniles with a second chance towards a better future.


  1. What is juvenile justice?
  • Juvenile justice is a legal system designed to address crimes committed by minors. It emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration of young offenders into society rather than punishment.
  1. What is the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015?
  • The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 is a law in India that governs how juveniles in conflict with the law and children in need of care and protection are handled by the legal system.
  1. What are the key provisions of the Act?
  • Defines a juvenile as someone under 18, but allows 16-18 year olds to be tried as adults for serious crimes.
  • Establishes Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) to handle juvenile cases.
  • Creates Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) to address the needs of children requiring care and protection.
  • Aims to simplify the adoption process.
  • Emphasizes rehabilitation and social integration of juveniles through observation homes, special homes, and foster care.
  • Provides aftercare programs to support juveniles after release from the justice system.
  1. What are the impacts of the Act?
  • Attempts to balance rehabilitation with deterrence for serious crimes.
  • Enhances transparency and accountability in adoption.
  • Strengthens institutional frameworks for handling juvenile cases.
  • Promotes non-institutional care through foster care and sponsorships.
  • Focuses on aftercare and social integration of juveniles.
  1. What are the challenges and criticisms of the Act?
  • Trying juveniles as adults is debated as it contradicts rehabilitation principles.
  • Implementation gaps exist due to understaffed JJBs and CWCs.
  • There may be over-reliance on institutional care over non-institutional options.
  • Aftercare support may be inadequate.
  • Stigma and social reintegration remain issues for juveniles.
  1. What are future directions for improvement?
  • Strengthen rehabilitation programs for all juveniles.
  • Enhance resource allocation for JJBs, CWCs, and aftercare programs.
  • Promote awareness about juvenile justice and reduce stigma.
  • Revisit the provision for trying juveniles as adults.
  • Expand non-institutional care options like foster care.
  1. Where can I learn more?

You can find the complete article on Juvenile Justice and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 

Understanding Juvenile Justice and the Role of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *