Among the 6 rapists-cum-murders of the heinous 2012 Delhi ‘Nirbhaya’ gang-rape case, one was a juvenile. According to news reports, he spent three years in a correctional home, and was released in 2015. His current whereabouts are unknown. All others are dead (4 executed, 1 died by suicide in prison).
The stats grow worse for Delhi every single year. Shockingly, the capital has emerged as the metropolitan city with the single highest number of underage criminals apprehended by the police.
These spine-chilling insights have been reported by the National Crime Report Bureau (NCRB), with regards to underage crime in India during 2018-2019.
In fact, with 3234 crimes, Delhi stands far above second place Chennai (870) and Mumbai (756), so much so that Delhi’s grand total is far higher than Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata put together.
The NCRB report also showed that of the total 2,677 crimes committed by underage criminals in Delhi, 46 were murder cases, 132 were rape cases, 93 molestation cases, 320 robberies, 17 incidents of unnatural sex, seven dacoities and 49 cases of rash driving.
According to Law magazine, Legal Desire, “It is a combination of two words, Juvenile and Delinquent. The word delinquency has extracted from the Latin word “Delinquere” which intends to leave or to surrender. Age group: Boy child 7 years to 16 years and Girl child 7 years to 18 years. It cannot charge any child lesser than 7 years with a crime, no matter how strong the case. Under section 82 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC), a child under the age of 7 cannot say to have committed an offence CITATION Ram18 l 16393 (Devgan, 2018).”
The magazine also reports:
In 2003, out of all the juvenile delinquency 466 cases related to the rape case, in 2013 it has increased the number to 1737. By this, we can infer that juvenile delinquency is exploding. According to the 2016 report, the cases related to kidnapping and abduction committed by children are nearly 1485, out of which 817 cases are because of marriage.
Education and Family Background of Underage Criminals
The NCRB also released the Education and Family background of these underage criminals: education does not deter crimes as most of the crimes were done by teens with matriculation education.
See the chart below:
NCRB also released data on the family background of these underage criminals, and surprisingly, most of them belong in a family unit, or are from a proper family background.
See the chart below:
State of juvenile correctional homes in India
There are a total of 815 Juvenile homes in India. They are overcrowded as the number of juveniles accused and need counselling is 1.7 million. The crimes committed by juveniles are on an increasing trend as reported by the NCRB. The number of crimes committed by juveniles in the year 2001 was 16509 which has increased to 25125 in the year 2011, that is to say that there is an increase of 65.7% in a decade. Going to the state wise statistics on juveniles in the year 2011 it is found that Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of juvenile crimes of 4997 followed by Maharastra - 4775.
According to ipleaders.in, blog related to the Indian justice system and the law:
The frightful incident of “Nirbhaya Delhi Gang Rape Case”, on December 16, 2012 shocked the whole nation and many debates were started among legal fraternity and socialists. The main reason and issue of the debate was the involvement of accused, who was just six months short to attain the age of 18 years. The involvement of the accused in such a heinous crime of rape forced the Indian Legislation to introduce a new law and thus, Indian Parliament came up with a new law which is known as “Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection), 2015.
What is the key point to remember in the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015?
The most important point to remember in this Act, which came into force in January, 2016, is that it will allow a Juvenile Justice Board, that would include psychologists and sociologists, to decide whether a juvenile criminal in the age group of 16–18 should be tried as an adult or not.
However, even with the role of the administration and society in general, the law itself can be seen only as a way to punish the perpetrators, and not as a deterrent to the crime.
So, largely, the means to discourage young teens from committing heinous crimes is left incomplete by the law, and the numbers we see this year, could increase even more.