The Madras High Court has ruled that juvenile offenders must be offered specific reformative treatment as prescribed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, rather than being dealt with in a merely punitive manner.
Children in confrontation with the law should be regarded as children in difficult situations, according to Justice AD Jagadish Chandira, and the juvenile justice system’s approach should be oriented at treating these children’s vulnerabilities and ensuring their rehabilitation.
“Juveniles involved in crimes are not criminals; in fact, they are victims of society in some cases. Juvenile delinquency can be stopped at an early stage, provided special care is taken both at home and in school. Parents and teachers play a major role in fostering the mind of a child. Instead of labeling them as criminals or delinquents, importance is to be given on understanding the needs of children and give them a scope for modification. The problem of child crime like many other social problems is linked up with the imperfections and maladjustment of our society”, the Court said in its order.
The High Court made the following observation in the current case: that penalising a juvenile for engaging in sexual activity would be counterproductive to have a connection with an underage girl and that a more reformative approach is required.
In these situations, a different approach is required.
The High Court determined that the infatuation of two juveniles had been given a criminal colour, and one of them had been punished, based on the facts and circumstances of the case.
The Court found that the girl’s age had not been verified conclusively, and that the JJ Act’s investigation had also not been completed.
“In the case on hand, the irresponsible behaviour on the part of the petitioner/minor and the victim girl, who hail from the lower strata of the society, is nothing but, a mirror image of the lacuna of the society in taking sufficient care for others…. in all justice has been denied to the petitioner/child in conflict in law’.
Therefore, it set aside the order passed by the JJ Board and set the minor petitioner at liberty.