Ethics Case Study : ClearIAS.com is starting a series of Case studies on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude (Civil Services Mains Paper 5). There will be opinion based as well as situation based questions. A few hints on the areas to be touched while answering the case study are provided. Readers can post answers in the comment-space provided.
Ethics Case Study No 1 : Juvenile Justice Act and Heinous Crimes
Question: The incidence of juveniles getting involved in heinous crimes like rape and murder seems to be on the rise. The main law dealing with crimes by juveniles is Juvenile Justice Act 2000. The act considers a person less than 18 years as a child and does not allow ‘conviction’ of the juvenile by normal courts. Under the Juvenile Justice Act, as the maximum reformative action, a juvenile offender can be kept in a special home for not more than three years. Under the recent instances of gang rape and murder do you think more stringent punishments for heinous crimes involving juveniles as the need of the hour? Does the JJ acts needs amendment? Substantiate your opinion.
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The authority to conduct the inquiry is Juvenile Justice Board.
- Arguments in favor : Ordering a rape convict to spend just three years in a correctional home is not going to deter others from committing crimes against women.
- Arguments in favor : JJ Act needs amendment as it does not talk about the physical or mental maturity of a juvenile.
- Arguments in favor : Anti social elements may use children as means of conducting serious crimes.
- Arguments in favor : JJ Act was unconstitutional and that it violates the right to life by shielding criminals.
- Arguments against: The aim of the Juvenile Justice Board is not to punish but reform offenders.
- Arguments against: There was no concrete data to prove that stiff punishment resulted in the lowering of the crime rate anywhere in the world .
- Note: The Supreme Court in 2013 refused to reduce the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years and dismissed a plea that minors involved in heinous crimes should not be protected under the law.
- Note: India is signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN Convention was followed when the age limit for juveniles was increased from 16 to 18 years.
- Note: Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, does not provide for any kind of conviction or sentence. It provides for ‘dispositional alternatives’ and there are seven such alternatives and it includes community service, probational service, fine and care by trained persons. The last resort being that the juvenile is kept in a special home or safe place for a period of three years and not more, up to the time he turns 21.
- Additional Info: According to the law for juveniles, a child involved in a crime is not called an accused and referred as Juvenile in Conflict with Law (JCL). If the victim is a minor, then he/she is referred as juvenile in need of care and protection. The arrest is referred as apprehension, trial is called inquiry and conviction is disposition. During the course of inquiry, social investigation report is given more credence than the evidence in deciding the quantum of punishment. The social investigation report takes into account family history, past record, attitude towards religion and ethical code of the home, social and economic status, delinquency record of members of family, living conditions and the relationship between parents. Under the Juvenile Justice Act, there is no provision for conviction.
- Additional Info: Young Offenders Act states that, young offenders (an individual under 21 years of age) are not supposed to be sent to jail.
- Note: Our correction facilities are in a very bad shape.
Post your opinion for this ethics-case-study using the comment space below. Thanks! – ClearIAS.com.
JJ act need not be amended or replace by a new law. The main reason behind the thought is that the children involved in most of the crimes ( serious and non serious) are from the vulnareble section of the society . Most children lack proper guidance, education and they are forced to child labour..
If he was imparted with good education and moral values both by the society and his/her fellow beings the said child might have been An asset to the society . Education system must be reached to all knook and corner of this country and the education system needs to be revamped so that ethics and moral values may also be included in their ciricullam . Mere punishment alone cant make a child change. The character building of any person starts from his schooling . So the administration and the parents shoud take great care during the said time.
The blanket definition of juvenile solely based on age is archaic. The age limit of a juvenile is the age below which it is assumed that the person doesnot have the capacity to infringe penal code. The gravity of the crime should also be taken into consideration. Countries like UK,Scotland,Ireland have fixed a much lower age for juvenile.(10-13) US had evolved a system of considering the nature of crime to make exceptions in age limit in the light of recent findings that juvenile crimes of heinous nature is on the rise. Our own statistics based on the “Crimes in India 2012” report indicates that over the past decade, though the total crimes of juvenile had not shown a significant increase, the no. of rape cases in which the perpetrator is a juvenile has more than doubled. This itself is a clear suggestion that its high time we rethink about the age limit fixed for juveniles. There is no constraint on India due to international obligations as neither the Beijing rules nor UN Convention on Rights of Child puts a hard and fast restriction on age limit. The UN Convention even grants the right to each state to fix any age below which it is assumed that the person lacks the capacity to infringe penal code. The case of the juvenile in the Delhi gang rape going almost scot free considering the crimes he committed is a blatant example of the lacuna of the juvenile definition.
JJA needs amendment. Society is not static, it is dynamic. Its needs change with time to survive. It is correct to reform and rehabilitate a child in conflict with law , however we should not send a signal in society that a person below 18 years of age can commit any kind of heinous acts and still get away with a minor penalty . So, need is to take into account mental maturity age of person and not just chronological age while deciding the case. Facilities at reformation centre should be improved so that real rehabilitation happens rather than just lip service.
Today with break down of joint family system, rise of nuclear family, increasing influence of social media children are exposed to a number of threats -psychological, physical, sexual. In our country inspite of political equality, inequalities like socio-economical, regional, are wide spread. Need of the hour is to build character of our future generation. Society should evolve a procedure(Mentoring, etc) to supervise and guide children during adolescent age so that they learn to respect fellow citizens, RTE act should be strengthen to include children upto 18 years of age into education system, since education has a transformative effect on a person, training to deal with different crisis in life and most important patriarchial attitude of society towards females should change.
Consider two Questions???
1. What if Ajmal Kasab was 16 instead of Nineteen?
2. A Mentally Challenged person who let suppose be anywhere in 30 and has Brain of Child/ Mental ability of a 15 year old??
How to Judge and what will Judiciary do??
Why not not separation of law for heinous crimes which does have barriers according to DOB or Mental Preparedness but according to crime committed.
how to start my preparation, though my graduation completed in mechanical engineering
There are many reasons a people engage himself in crime such as unfortunately, accidentally, mentally ill, psychopath, anti-trust on judicial system as revenge, planned/organised and so on. However, inner thought make him to do a crime or not. Education system need more work on ethical teachings and family and society’s participation also need of the hour.
In 1970’s a convict in U.S. under 18 committed serial rap and make number of innocent girls and ladies into victims. The Judiciary consider him as major instead minor based on his act not age. Therefore, Judiciary need amendment to work on the crime and engage its exercise to reduce the crime by inquire 360 degree of the case instead doing by prescribed norm only. Here, judges need power and knowledge as our ancient judges as well as stay out from arbitrary powers.