Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill, 2021
Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 on 28th July 2021. The bill aims to strengthen child protection set up under the 2015 Act, to re-define the category of serious offences under the 2015 Act, and also empower the District Magistrate to pass adoption orders.
The Bill seeks to categorize offences wherein the maximum sentence is more than seven years’ imprisonment but no minimum sentence or a minimum sentence of fewer than seven years that has been provided as serious offences. under the Act.
What are the Serious Offences ?
These include offences for which the punishment under IPC or any law, for the time being, is imprisonment between three and seven years.
The Bill also empowers the DM to pass adoption orders, why so?
By doing so, the bill aims to facilitate a coordinated and effective response of the administration to various issues pertaining to children like adoption.
RE-DEFINING SERIOUS OFFENCES:
In Shilpa Mittal v. State of NCT of Delhi, the Supreme Court observed that the Juvenile Justice Act does not deal with the fourth category of offences viz., offence where the maximum sentence is more than seven years imprisonment, but no minimum sentence or a minimum sentence of fewer than seven years is provided and treated the same as “serious offences” under the Act.
The Bill proposes to amend Section 86 of the Act to the effect that offences punishable with imprisonment between 3–7 years shall be non-cognizable and non-bailable. Offences under Section 86 of the Act were earlier cognizable and non-bailable offences. According to this bill, earlier offences under the said Act were punishable under Judicial Magistrate but now they should be triable under Children’s Court only, notwithstanding anything contained in CrPC or the POCSO Act.
DM’S AUTHORISATION FOR ADOPTION ORDERS:
Section 58 of the JJ Act prescribes the procedure for the adoption of children by prospective adoptive parents. The procedure involves a seal of approval by the Civil Court, which passes the final adoption orders but through this bill came the amendment that instead of the courts, District Magistrate and Additional District Magistrate will issue adoption orders both for Intra and inter-country adoptions.
The Bill proposes to empower the District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to effectively coordinate and monitor the functions of agencies responsible for the implementation of provisions of the 2015 Act. District Magistrates are empowered to supervise the District Child Protection Units and Special Juvenile Protection Units and can conduct a quarterly review of the functioning of the Child Welfare Committee.
CHILD WELFARE COMMITTEES:
The Bill seeks to strengthen the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) by incorporating provisions relating to educational qualifications for its members and stipulating eligibility conditions for selection of the Committee.
That's All For the Day