CHILD Protection & Child Rights » V. State Mechanisms » State Actors » Juvenile Justice Board (JJB)
Juveniles accused of a crime or detained for a crime are brought before the JJB under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 (amended in 2006). Under this act and provisions of the Criminal Code Procedure children are not to be taken to a regular criminal court. The purpose of a separate court is that its purpose is socio-legal rehabilitation and reformation not punishment. The aim is to hold a child culpable for their criminal activity, not through punishment, but counselling the child to understand their actions and persuade them away from criminal activities in the future.
The JJB consists of a metropolitan magistrate or a judicial magistrate of the first class and two social workers, at least one of whom should be a woman. All three people form a bench that are to function as a unit. Though they have different roles they are required to coordinate for the best interest of the child. When a child has been found guilty of a crime the social workers are vital to deciding the best course of action for the rehabilitation of that child. JJB are meant to resolve cases within a four month period. Backlog of cases can be addressed with an increased number of sittings as was the case in the Mumbai JJB.
A child is usually brought before the JJB be a police officer or person from the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) (previously called JAPU). Any organisation or person who brings a child before the court should inform their local police units first. The police have 24 hours to produce a child before the court once he is arrested. The person or police officer who brings the child before the JJB is required to complete a report of the arrest/detainment. Once the child has been brought before the JJB he/she is registered into the closest Observation Home. Most circumstances the juvenile can be released on bail by the JJB. If the police wish to interrogate the child or conduct a test identification parade the JJB has to give an order allowing so and it can only be conducted in the presence of the superintendent of the home. The home probation officer (P.O.) in charge will also submit a report on the child.
With the police report and P.O. report the JJB calls for the child's plea. If the child pleas guilty the JJB will pass appropriate orders for the child. To prevent coercion, the JJB can dismiss the child's guilty plea if it feels it was forced. If the juvenile pleads not guilty the JJB must further investigate by calling witnessing and accusers to testify before the court. The juvenile is given then opportunity to address the evidence brought before the court and also bring witnesses to the court. According to the evidence the JJB will then pass an order disposing of the case as it sees fit. The JJB is a child-friendly space that should not be intimidating or overwhelming for the child.
As per the provisions of the ICPS, the Government of India provides two grants for setting up of JJBs: A Construction and Maintenance Grant of 7.99 lakhs and Maintenance Grant of 4.99 lakhs. The cost of setting up JJBs is shared by central and state as a 35:65 Ratio except in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East where the ratio stands at 90:10.