The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021, which seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, was passed in the Rajya Sabha, today. The bill was introduced in the Parliament by the Government in the Budget session this year. It was passed in Lok Sabha on 24.03.2021.
While introducing the bill, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister for Women and Child Development stressed upon the necessity for entrusting District Magistrates with the responsibility of care and protection of vulnerable children in light of the prevailing inadequacies in the system. She recounted the commitment of the Parliament towards prioritising India’s children above all issues.
The amendments include authorizing District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability. The District Magistrates have been further empowered under the Act, to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions. As per the amended provisions of the Act,any Child Care Institutions shall be registered after considering the recommendations of the District Magistrate. The DM shall independently evaluate the functioning of District Child Protection Units, Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards, Specialized Juvenile Police Units, Child care Institutions etc.
The eligibility parameters for appointment of CWC members have been redefined. Criteria for disqualification of the CWC members has also been introduced to ensure that only the persons capable of rendering quality service with requisite competence and integrity are appointed to CWC.
Presently there are three categories (petty, serious and heinous) defined under the Act which are referred to, while considering the cases of children in conflict with law. However, it was observed that some of the offences do not strictly fall under any of these categories. It has been decided that offences where the maximum sentence is more than 7 years imprisonment but no minimum sentence has been prescribed or minimum sentence of less than 7 years is provided, shall be treated as serious offences within this Act.
Several difficulties faced in implementation of various provisions of the Act have also been addressed and Suitable amendments to remove these difficulties arising in the interpretation of various provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and to clarify the scope of certain provisions of the Act have also been introduced.