The Rajya Sabha on July 28, 2021, passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2021, thereby amending the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children), Act, 2015. The Bill was already passed in the Lok Sabha in March 2021.
The amendment of the Act was taken up after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in a survey of children’s shelter homes in India found that over 7,600 children were living in poor living conditions with no access to basic amenities.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2021 – Key points
Smriti Irani, Minister for Women and Child Development said:
•The Act stresses shifting the accountability to the district magistrates or additional district magistrates to take responsibility for the well-being of vulnerable children in shelter homes across the country.
•The district magistrates are now empowered to sign adoption orders under Section 61 of the Juvenile Justice Act thus making the process of adoption faster and more compliant with rules.
•The Act now also calls for all Child Care Institutions to be registered in line with recommendations of the district magistrate.
•The Act also entrusts DMs with the responsibility to oversee and evaluate the functioning of child welfare committees, district child protection units, specialized juvenile police units, and juvenile justice boards.
•The Act has redefined the eligibility parameters for the appointment of CWC members. Further, the amended provisions of the Act have introduced criteria for disqualification of CWC members to ensure the appointment of people with integrity and requisite competence.
•Currently, the Act outlines three categories of offences – petty, serious, and heinous. The amendment states that offences with a maximum sentence of more than 7 years imprisonment, but no minimum sentence, or a minimum sentence of less than 7 years is provided shall be treated as a serious offence under the Act.
What is Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children), Act, 2015?
•Parliament introduced and passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act in 2015 to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000.
•The Act offered provisions to allow trials of juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years as an adult who were found to be in conflict with the law, especially heinous crimes.
•The Act also offered provisions regarding adoption. The Act replaced the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956) and Guardians of the ward Act (1890) with more universally accessible adoption law.
•The Act enabled smooth functioning of adoption procedures for orphans, surrendered, and abandoned children while making the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) the statutory body for adoption-related matters.