Essay on the Custody in Juvenile Institutions

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Essay on the Custody in Juvenile Institutions

Remand Homes (now renamed Observation Homes), Certified Schools, Reformatory Schools, Borstal Schools and Probation Hostels are some of the important institutions used for custody and correction of juvenile delinquents in India.

Children Acts were enacted back in different states for the treatment and protection of young offenders, and for custody, trial and punishment of juvenile delinquents. Madras (present Tamil Nadu) enacted such an act in 1920, Bengal in 1922, and Bombay (Maharashtra) in 1924.

After that, all states passed these acts. Besides juvenile delinquents, these acts also dealt with the neglected, destitute and socially handicapped children, victimised children, and uncontrollable children.

But these acts have now-been replaced by the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986. A review of the situation shows that besides the Children Act 1960, passed by the union and state legislatures, all the states except Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir had already enacted their laws.

Around 55 districts of the country, however, were not covered by any of the Children Acts. With the new 1986 Act, which supersedes different Children's Acts in different states and union territories, the whole country has now been brought under it.

The Children Acts suffered from many deficiencies in the absence of a uniform law for the country as a whole. Some of these deficiencies were: (1) the upper age limit in defining a 'child' varied from state to state; (2) all states had not provided for juvenile courts; (3) the institutional facilities were devoid of any well-defined criteria and norms to regulate capacity, staff, programmes, etc.; (4) no minimum standards for basic needs, living conditions, or therapeutic services existed; and (5) in most of the states, neglected children were huddled together with juvenile delinquents.

An important feature of the 1986 Act is that it provides a differential approach in dealing with the 'neglected juvenile' as opposed to the 'delinquent juvenile'. The former category includes juveniles who are likely to be abused, exploited and inducted into criminogenic life and are in need of legal support to be weaned away from such situations.

The juvenile delinquents under no circumstances are to be lodged in jails with other prisoners. The neglected children will have to be kept in Children's or Observation Homes. Under the Act, boys up to 16 years of age and girls up to 18 years will be dealt with under the juvenile law in case of commission of crimes.

While neglected juveniles are to be produced before the Juvenile Welfare Board, delinquents are to be dealt with by the juvenile courts.

The neglected juvenile is to be sent to a juvenile home only if his care with a parent, guardian, or a fit person or an institution is not found feasible. For juvenile delinquents, special homes are required to be set up with facilities for accommodation, education, vocational training, and character building.

The Act requires the state governments to create a fund and to exclusively utilise it for the welfare and rehabilitation of juveniles dealt with under the Act and also to constitute Advisory Boards to advise the authorities concerned on matters relating to establishment and maintenance of homes, mobilisation of resources, and so forth.


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