What are the Rights of a Juvenile Prisoner?

By Shiva Naman 12 Minutes Read


Human rights are those rights which are primary to live as human beings’, these are basic standards without which there is no chance to survive and develop in dignity. They are at a very initial level inherent to the human, inalienable, and universal. As part of the structure or specifically can be said as a framework of human rights law, all human rights are indivisible, interrelated, and interdependent. When we pay heed to this framework it tells us that it is important to promote, protect, and realize children’s rights. Despite significant efforts to improve the rights of the child, vulnerable and marginalized children are being forgotten. Children who are victims of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination, and suffer exclusion from education, healthcare, and other vital services, are being largely overlooked by international development efforts that could dramatically improve their lives and prospects.


A juvenile is a child or young person who is not yet old enough to be regarded as an adult. According to Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, a Juvenile is a person who has not completed 18th year of age or a juvenile is a young person who has not met a specific age as prescribed by the law of a country and does not abide resemblance as a matured person who can be made legally liable for his criminal activities.[1] In India the legal responsibility towards children, in terms of placing them in the category of coverage of the law, this ambit has been categorized into two categories, namely those who are in conflict with the law (an individual under the age of 18 years who is accused of committing an offense); and those ‘in need of care and protection’ (children from deprived and marginalized sections of society as well as those with different needs and vulnerabilities).


It is interesting to point out that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child 1989 (hereinafter UNCRC) does not use the term juvenile in all its Articles covering 3-parts of substantial rights (Article 1 to 41), administrative guidelines (Article 42 to 45) and procedures (Article 46 to 54) rather the Convention explicitly uses the term ‘children in conflict with law’ as one of the suitable terminologies to describe children who are alleged as, or accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law of the country.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, The Rights of Children are categorized as Right to Survival, Development, Protection, and Participation. The Convention does recognize the family as the fundamental group for the growth and wellbeing of children for which family should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the communities[2]. It has at least 4 principles like non-discrimination (Article 2), the best interest of the child (Article 3), right to the family environment (Article 9 & 10), and right to be heard (Article 12, 13 & 14), etc. The best interest of the children is the fundamental principle governing the entire gamut of rights conferred on children. The state parties to the convention are required as a matter of treaty obligation to bring their administrative, legislative, and institutions as well as services in conformity with the provisions of the convention[3]. This requirement of the convention makes it a hard-international law, which is binding on the state for its implementation through the reception of the provisions into the domestic legal system. That makes the convention unique and authoritative.


The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 came up with, setting up, Juvenile Welfare Board which will consist of a Chairman to be appointed by the State Government and at least one member to be a woman. They shall have powers of a Metropolitan Magistrate as specified in Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. The Board deals with neglected juveniles.[4] Section 5 of the Act requires that Juvenile Courts be established for dealing with a delinquent juvenile. Juvenile Court shall consist of the 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.[5]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. In the event of any difference of opinion among the members of a Board or the Magistrates of a Juvenile Court, the opinion of the majority shall prevail. 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.[6]

Now the Rights of Juvenile Prisoners are as follows: –

  • A juvenile once found to be delinquent may be released after looking into the circumstances under which he has committed the offense.[7]
  • The juvenile may be allowed to go home after advice and admonition.[8]
  • The Juvenile may be released on probation of good conduct under the supervision of parents, guardians, or fit person for a period not exceeding three years.[9]
  • The Juvenile courts may make an order that the juvenile is sent to special homes in case the boy is over fourteen years or in case the girl is over sixteen years for a period not less than three years or until he ceases to be a juvenile.
  • The juvenile may be ordered to pay a fine if he earns money.
  • When the juvenile is released on probation of good conduct or under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or fit person the juvenile shall remain under the supervision of the probation officer for a period not exceeding three years.[10]
  • In making any order concerning the juvenile a competent authority shall take into consideration the age of the juvenile, the state of physical and mental health of the juvenile, and the circumstances in which the juvenile was living. The reports made by the Probation Officer.[11]
  • The religious beliefs of the juvenile and any other circumstances were also considered.[12]


It is evident that how we treat a child today, he/she will become the same in the future. Nobody can deny this that is the citizen of tomorrow, they should be treated in the best possible manner, so that they don’t deviate towards the wrong aspect of any action as this will prevent a youngster who if somehow has become a bit of cruel in nature or is having mild traits of criminal, would not turn in to habitual offenders in their forthcoming life. The international convention has articulated the rights in a very efficient way so that the problem of juvenile delinquency could be sorted using firm principles of guidance which would ultimately result in shaping the fundamental behavior and thought process of children.

[1] The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. 
[2] Para Four of the Preamble of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child.
[3] Article 3 and 4 (UNCRC) calls upon state parties to undertake appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures as a treaty obligation.
[4] Section 5 (1), (2)(3); Full Text of the Children’s Act, 1960 available at Source Link. accessed on 10/7/2020
[5] Srivastava, S.P. Juvenile Justice and Its Justice Delivery System, An Overview of the Policy, Programs and   Problems of Juvenile Justice Administration, Lucknow University Law Journal Vol.1, 1994 p.13 -23
[6] Mukherjee, S.K. Administration of Juvenile correctional Institutions, Sterling Publishers Private Limited, New Delhi p.4-29
[7] Section 21, The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986.
[8] Section 360(3), Criminal Procedure Code.
[9] Singh, P.J. Juvenile Deviations and Protection in the Context of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, Criminal Law Journal 1994 June, p.46
[10] Singh, P.J. Juvenile Deviations and Protection in the Context of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, Criminal Law Journal 1994 June, p.46
[11] Bedi, M.S, Coordination among Juvenile Justice Functionaries, Indian Journal of Criminology and     Criminalistics, Jan –Jun, 1995, 16 p.8-14
[12] Section 33, The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986.

Related Posts