‘Age of juveniles in conflict with law should be reduced to 16 years’

Face to face with Dinesh Pandey, former member, Juvenile Justice Board Lucknow.

lucknow Updated: Mar 14, 2018 16:41 IST
Rohit K Singh
Rohit K Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow

Dinesh Pandey, former member, Juvenile Justice Board Lucknow, demystified the procedures involved in cases of juvenile accused.

What is the procedure of trial and conviction involving juvenile accused?

First of all, the juvenile justice board seeks evidence of age to ascertain the juvenility of the accused. Till such time, the accused is required to stay at the government observation home. Even during the trial, the accused has to stay at the observation home and after conviction be transferred to a special home or be involved in community for reformation.

Any specific time frame when cases involving juveniles should be solved?

As per the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, all cases must be solved within 4 months. The act also states that the juvenile status of the accused be decided within 30 days. Among the acceptable age proofs are Class 10 certificate, certificate by first school of the accused, authentic certificates issued by municipal corporation and panchayats and in the absence of all, medical opinion by a duly constituted medical board is acceptable.

What are the provisions for punishment ?

As per the JJ Act, after conviction, juveniles are required to serve a maximum term of three years in special homes. The period spent during trial at observation homes is reduced from the three-year term. In many cases, the juveniles are involved in community services for reformation and rehabilitation.

Any particular provisions for heinous crimes including rape and murder?

Maximum period to be served by juveniles for any crime is three years. Depending on the degree of crime, the juveniles are involved in community service after conviction as a part of the reformatory practice. There are also provisions of vocational training and rehabilitation programmes within observation and special homes for juveniles in conflict with law.

There is a lot of pendency in juvenile courts. Who do you think should be blamed for the delay?

There are a number of reasons that lead to delay. Despite provisions, the state fails to provide free legal aid to those who can’t afford it and so their cases remain pending. Then there is staff crunch, inadequate facilities, including electricity and trained staff, that account for the delay. Though the act calls for daily sessions by JJ board members, they are just held twice a week here and so the cases pile up. Often police do not cooperate unless notices are sent to them. This is one of the biggest reasons for delay.

What do you suggest ?

Crime among juvenile is fast increasing. Thus the age of juveniles in conflict with law should be reduced to 16 years in India. Also the punishment should be differentiated between heinous crimes and petty crimes.

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 16:41 IST