Assessing Juvenility, a ‘Delicate Task’: SC
- Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 requires a “preliminary assessment” to be done of the mental and physical capacity of juveniles, aged between 16 and 18, who are involved in serious crimes.
What is the current issue?
- The “delicate task” of deciding whether juveniles aged between 16 and 18, accused of heinous offences such as murder, can be tried like adults should be based on “meticulous psychological investigation” rather than be left to the discretion and perfunctory “wisdom” of juvenile justice boards and children’s courts across the country, Supreme Court said in a recent verdict.
- Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 mandates a “preliminary assessment” to be done of the mental and physical capacity of juveniles, aged between 16 and 18, who are involved in serious crimes.
- The assessment is meant to measure a juvenile’s ability to understand the consequences of the offence and the circumstances in which he or she allegedly committed the offence.
- If the Juvenile Justice Board decides that the juvenile should not be treated as an adult, then the case would be heard by itself.
- In that case, if the child is found guilty, he would be sent to juvenile care for three years.
- However, if the Board decides to refer the case to the children’s court for trial as an adult, the juvenile, if guilty, would face punishment up to life imprisonment depending on the severity of the crime.
- The report of the preliminary assessment decides the question of transferring the case of a child between 16 and 18 years of age to the children’s court.
- This decision should not be taken without the conducting a meticulous psychological evaluation.
- National Commission for Protection of Child Rights can issue guidelines to be followed in the determination of Juvenile status of an accused.
- The Board which conducts the assessment of the child should have at least one child psychologist.
- They can also take the assistance of experienced psychologists or psychosocial workers.
Source : The Hindu