THE JUVENILE JUSTICE ACT, 1986

No.53 OF 1986

[1st December, 1986.]

An Act 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.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Thirty-seventh Year of the Republic of India as follows:-

CHAPTER I

PRELIMINARY

1.Short title, extent and commencement.- (1) This Act may be called the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986.

(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

(3) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act and for different States.

2.Definitions.- In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-

(a) "begging" means-

(i) soliciting or receiving alms in a public place or entering into any private premises for the purpose of soliciting or receiving alms, whether under the pretence of singing, dancing, fortunetelling, performing tricks of selling articles or otherwise;

(ii) exposing or exhibiting, with the object of obtaining or extorting alms, any sore, wound, injury, deformity or disease, whether of himself or of any other person or of an animal;

(iii) allowing oneself to be used as an exhibit for the purpose of soliciting or receiving alms;

(b) "Board" means a Juvenile Welfare Board constituted under section 4;

(c) "brothel", "prostitute", "prostitution" and "public place" shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Woman and Girls Act, 1956;

(d) "competent authority" means, in relation to neglected juveniles, a Board and, in relation to delinquent juveniles, a Juvenile Court and where no such Board or Juvenile Court has been constituted, includes any court empowered under sub-section (2) of section 7 to exercise the powers conferred on a Board or Juvenile Court;

(e) "delinquent juvenile" means a juvenile who has been found to have committed an offence;

(f) "fit person" or "fit institution" means any person or institution (not being a police station or jail) found fit by the competent authority to receive and take care of a juvenile entrusted to his or its care and protection on the terms and conditions specified by the competent authority;

(g) "guardian" in relation to a juvenile, includes any person who, in the opinion of the competent authority, having cognizance of any proceeding in relation to a juvenile, has, for the time being, the actual charge of, or control over, that juvenile;

(h) "juvenile" means a boy who has not attained the age of sixteen years or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years;

(i) "Juvenile Court" means a Court constituted under section 5;

(j) "juvenile home" means an institution established or certified by the State Government under section 9 as a juvenile home;

(k) "narcotic drug" and "psychotropic substance" shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985(61 of 1985);

(l) "neglected juvenile" means a juvenile who-

(i) is found begging; or

(ii) is found without having any home or settled place of abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence and is destitute;

(iii) has a parent or guardian who is unfit or incapacitated to exercise control over the juvenile; or

(iv) lives in a brothel or with a prostitute or frequently goes to any place used for the purpose of prostitution, or is found to associate with any prostitute or any other person who leads an immoral, drunken or depraved life;

(v) who is being or is likely to be abused or exploited for immoral or illegal purposes or unconscionable gain;

(m) "observation home" means any institution or place established or recognised by the State Government under section 11 as an observation home;

(n) "offence" means an offence punishable under any law for the time being in force;

(o) "place of safety" means any place or institution (not being a police station or jail), the person in charge of which is willing temporarily to receive and take care of a juvenile and which, in the opinion of the competent authority may be a place of safety for the juvenile;

(p) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

(q) "probation officer" means a officer appointed as a probation officer under this Act or under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958(20 of 1958);

(r) "special home" means an institution established or certified by the State Government under section 10;

(s) "supervision", in relation to a juvenile placed under the care of any parent, guardian or other fit person or fit institution under this Act, means the supervision of that juvenile by a probation officer for the purpose of ensuring that the juvenile is properly looked after and that the conditions imposed by the competent authority are complied with;

(t) all words and expressions used but not defined in this Act and defined in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(2 of 1974), shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in that Code.

3.Continuation of inquiry in respect of juvenile who has ceased to be a juvenile.- Where an inquiry has been initiated against a juvenile and during the course of such inquiry the juvenile ceases to be such, then, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or in any other law for the time being in force, the inquiry may be continued and orders may be made in respect of such person as if such person had continued to be a juvenile.

CHAPTER II

COMPETENT AUTHORITIES AND INSTITUTIONS FOR JUVENILES

4.Juvenile Welfare Boards.- (1) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute for any area specified in the notification, one or more Juvenile Welfare Boards for exercising the powers and discharging the duties conferred or imposed on such Board in relation to neglected juveniles under this Act.

(2) A Board shall consist of a Chairman and such other members as the State Government thinks fit to appoint, of whom not less than one shall be a woman; and every such member shall be vested with the powers of a Magistrate under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(2 of 1974).

(3) The Board shall function as a Bench of Magistrates and shall have the powers conferred by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(2 of 1974), on a Metropolitan Magistrate or, as the case may be, a Judicial Magistrate of the first class.

5.Juvenile courts.- (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(2 of 1974), the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute for any area specified in the notification, one or more Juvenile Courts for exercising the powers and discharging the duties conferred or imposed on such Court in relation to delinquent juveniles under this Act.

(2) A Juvenile Court shall consist of such number of Metropolitan Magistrates or Judicial Magistrates of the first class, as the case may be, forming a Bench as the State Government thinks fit to appoint, of whom one shall be designated as the Principal Magistrate; and every such Bench shall have the powers conferred by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(2 of 1974), on a Metropolitan Magistrate or, as the case may be, a Judicial Magistrate of the first class.

(3) Every Juvenile Court shall be assisted by a panel of two honorary social workers possessing such qualifications as may be prescribed, of whom at least one shall be a woman, and such panel shall be appointed by the State Government.

6.Procedure, etc., in relation to Boards and juvenile Courts.- (1) In the event of any difference of opinion among the members of a Board or among the Magistrates of a Juvenile Court, the opinion of the majority shall prevail, but where there is no such majority, the opinion of the Chairman or of the Principal Magistrate, as the case may be, shall prevail.

(2) A Board or Juvenile Court may act notwithstanding the absence of any member of the Board or, as the case may be, any Magistrate of the Juvenile Court, and no order made by the Board or Juvenile Court shall be invalid by reason only of the absence of any member or Magistrate, as the case may be, during any stage of the proceeding.

(3) No person shall be appointed as a member of the Board or as a Magistrate in the Juvenile Court unless he has, in the opinion of the State Government, special knowledge of child psychology and child welfare.

7.Powers of Board and Juvenile Court.- (1) Where a Board or a Juvenile Court has been constituted for any area, such Board or Court shall, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force but save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, have power to deal exclusively with all proceeding under this Act relating to neglected juveniles or delinquent juveniles, as the case may be:

Provided that a Board or a Juvenile Court may, if it is of opinion that it is necessary so to do having regard to the circumstances of the case, transfer any proceedings to any Juvenile Court or Board, as the case may be:

Provided further that where there is any difference of opinion between a Board and a Juvenile Court regarding the transfer of any proceedings under the first proviso, it shall be referred to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or, as the case may be, the Chief Judicial Magistrate for decision, and in a case where the District Magistrate is functioning as a Board or a Juvenile Court, such difference of opinion shall be referred to the Court of Session, and the decision of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or Chief Judicial Magistrate or, as the case may be, the Court of Session on such reference shall be final.