What is Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021?

Published on: August 03,2021 10:41 IST

By Samriddhi Thakar


Recently, the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 was passed by Rajya Sabha. There is a significant rise in juvenile delinquency in India. J

uveniles are basically children below 18 years of age who commit a crime. The law has been enacted for the protection of such children.

The Juvenile Justice Act has been amended multiple times to protect the children. The main aim of the new amendment is to strengthen the provisions for the protection and adoption of children.

Further, the Bill proposes to empower the District Magistrate and additional District Magistrate with child care and adoption issues. The Bill also proposes provisions related to children in conflict with the law and the children in need, care, and adoption.

Thus, this article deals with the amendments brought in by the new Bill.

Before understanding the Bill, one must know what is meant by a juvenile.

Who is a juvenile?

According to Merriam and Webster’s dictionary, a juvenile is psychologically immature or underdeveloped child.

Section 2(35) of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 defines a juvenile as a child below eighteen years of age. So, a juvenile is a child who is below eighteen years of age and has committed a crime.

A separate juvenile justice system has been created for dealing with the juveniles of India. It is altogether a different kind of justice system in terms of procedure and facilities. Juvenile Courts are established for treating juveniles who have committed crimes.

The punishment for the juveniles is generally three years imprisonment even if it is heinous crime. The punishment is less as it is believed that the child being juvenile has a chance of reformation.

Hence, such children are mainly sent to rehabilitation centers, juvenile schools or are involved in various programs held by the Government and NGOs.

What is the history of Juvenile law?

  • Juvenile Justice Act, 1986

This Act was enacted by the Parliament to provide for the care, protection, treatment, development, and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles and for the adjudication of certain matters relating to, and disposition of, delinquent juveniles.

In this Act, the juvenile was defined as a boy who has not attained the age of sixteen years or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years. Various welfare authorities and institutions were set up, new definitions were added.

Further, the Act provided the establishment of social welfare and juvenile rehabilitation funds, the establishment of advisory councils, and the appointment of visitors to juvenile institutions.

  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000

This Act provided a special approach towards the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency. It also provided a framework for rehabilitation, protection, treatment of the children.

This Act has defined a juvenile as any person below the age of eighteen years. The main aim of this Act is rehabilitation. It has established Juvenile Justice Board, Child Welfare Committees for giving justice to the juvenile in conflict with the law.

The Act also provides basic needs and protection of human rights. It does not allow infliction of death sentence, life imprisonment in default of furnishing security. It also provides punishment to those who treat the juvenile with cruelty.

  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

The increasing number of juvenile crimes and Nirbhaya gangrape case was the main reason behind the enactment of this Act. The main reason was the involvement of the accused who was just six months short to attain the age of 18 years.

The involvement of a juvenile in such a heinous crime of rape forced the Legislature to enact a new law. Consequently, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was enacted.

The Act defined a juvenile as a child below eighteen years of age. It allowed children between 16-18 years of age to be tried as adults for heinous offenses. It established Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district.

It empowered the Juvenile Justice Board to conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine if a juvenile offender is to be sent for rehabilitation or to be tried as an adult.

Further, the Act provides the eligibility of adoptive parents and procedures for adoption. Moreover, punishment for cruelty, offering narcotic substances, abduction, or selling has been provided.

What was the need for passing new Bill?

  • The main aim of the Bill was to strengthen the provisions on the protection and adoption of children.
  • It was found that many child care institutions do not have access to safe drinking water, beds, and toilet.
  • According to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), 90% of the Child Care Institutions were run by NGOs out of which it was found that 39% of the Child Care Institutions were not registered even after the 2015 amendment.[1]
  • There was no minimum sentence provided in case of serious offenses.

Due to these issues, it was important to pass a new Bill.

What are the key amendments proposed by the Bill?

The Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Bill, 2021 proposed to solve an important lacuna of the Juvenile Justice, 2015 Act. In the case of Shilpa Mittal Vs NCT Delhi,[2] the Supreme Court observed that the Juvenile Justice Act does not deal with the fourth category of offenses viz., offense where the maximum sentence is more than seven years imprisonment, but no minimum sentence or a minimum sentence of less than seven years is provided and treated the same as “serious offenses” under the Act.

Hence, the new Bill tries to remove the lacuna by extending the definition of serious offenses by including in it a maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is less than seven years.

The definition of a child in need of care and protection is slightly modified. According to Section 2(14)(vi) of the Bill child in need of care and protection means a child who does not have parents and no one is willing to take care of and protect or who is abandoned or surrendered have been substituted.

It also proposes to include child in need of care and protection means a child who is found vulnerable and has been or is being or is likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking.

Under Section 16 of the proposed Bill, the District Magistrate has been given power in the interest of the child to call for any information from all the stakeholders including the Board and the Committee.

Changes have also been proposed in Section 17 of the Bill which suggests Child Welfare Officer means an officer attached to “Child Care Institution” instead of Children’s Home for carrying out the directions given by the Committee or the Board.

Further, Section 26(A) of the Bill includes Additional District Magistrate along with the District Magistrate.

Some modifications have been made related to Child Welfare Committees. Section 27(4) has been substituted and it provides that a person will not be eligible to be appointed as a member of the committee unless-

  • He has a degree in child psychology or psychiatry or law or social work or sociology or human health or education or human development or special education for differently-abled children,
  • He has been actively involved in health, education, or welfare activities pertaining to children for seven years,
  • He is a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or psychiatry or law or social work or sociology or human health or education or human development or special education for differently-abled children.

Further, Section 27(4)(A) provides that a person will not be eligible for selection as a member of a committee if he-

  • Has any past record of violation of human rights or child rights,
  • Has been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude,
  • Has been removed or dismissed from service of the government of India or state government or an undertaking or corporation owned or controlled by the government of India or state government,
  • Has ever indulged in child abuse or employment of child labour or immoral act or any other violation of human rights or immoral acts, or
  • Is part of the management of a childcare institution in a district.

The powers of the District Magistrate have been increased under the proposed Bill. Section 27 of the Bill states that the Committee has to submit the report to the District Magistrate in such a form as may be prescribed and he will conduct a quarterly review of the functioning of the Committee.

Further, the District Magistrate shall be the grievance redressal authority. He shall entertain any grievance arising out of the functioning of the Committee and the affected child and anyone connected with the child shall file a complaint before the District Magistrate.

He shall take cognizance of the action of the Committee and give the parties the opportunity of being heard and then finally pass the appropriate order.

Section 53 of the Bill proposes the inspection committees shall mandatorily conduct visits to all facilities housing children in the area allocated and submit the reports of the findings to the District Magistrate. Later on, on submission of the report, appropriate action must be taken by the District Magistrate.

Under Section 61 of the Bill the District Magistrate has the power to dispose of adoption proceedings.

Currently, under the 2015 Act, Section 63 says that the adoption order is issued by the Court which proves that the child belongs to adoptive parents.

However, the Bill proposes that instead of the Court, the District Magistrate including the (Additional District Magistrate) shall perform all the duties and issue orders.

The Act of 2015 has provided that the offenses against children that are punishable with imprisonment of more than seven years, shall be tried in the Children’s Court, where an offense is punishable with imprisonment with less than seven years shall be tried by Judicial Magistrate.

However, the amendment Bill of 2021 has proposed to try all the offenses in the Children’s Court.

The Act provides that an offense under this Act is punishable with imprisonment between three to seven years shall be cognizable and non-bailable. But the Bill provides that such offenses shall be non-cognizable and non-bailable.

Amendments are also proposed with respect to appeal. Section 101(3) provides that no appeal shall lie from any order of acquittal made by the Board in respect of a child alleged to have committed an offense other than the heinous offense by a child who has completed or is above the age of sixteen years.

Further, the Bill provides that any person who is aggrieved by an adoption order passed by the District Magistrate may appeal before the Divisional Commissioner within thirty days of such order.

Such appeals should be disposed of within a period of four weeks from the date of filing of the appeal.


Thus, we can conclude that the new amendment Bill has tried to remove all the lacunas. It has solved the most important issue related to minimum sentence. The Bill seeks to establish Children’s Court which is good initiative as trying the children in adults Court can have serious implications on their mind. Hence, this is valid point proposed in the Bill.

Further, the powers of District Magistrate have been enlarged but this at the same time has created a huge burden on him. Also, the appointment of members in Child Welfare Committees possessing the required qualification is a great step.

Overall, the new Bill has tried to remove the old loopholes and introduced various new aspects. Thus, this new amendment Bill is a welcome step.


  1. The Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill, 2021, available at:drishtiias.com(last visited on 28 July 2021)
  2. Shilpa Mittal Vs NCT Delhi, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 34 OF 2020

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