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Draft framework for deciding if minor aged 16-18 can be tried as adult in cases of heinous crime in public domain | India News

NEW DELHI: In a significant move, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has prepared the draft guidelines laying out a broad uniform framework for preliminary assessment to determine whether a child in the 16-18 years age group alleged to have committed a “heinous crime” may be tried as an adult under the children’s court.
The draft guidelines, which have been made in compliance with the Supreme Court directive issued on the matter last year, have been placed in the public domain by NCPCR for comments and a response has been sought by January 20.
Under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 a specific section of the law states that “in case of a heinous offence alleged to have been committed by a child, who has completed or is above the age of sixteen years, the Juvenile Justice Board shall conduct a preliminary assessment with regard to his mental and physical capacity to commit such offence, ability to understand the consequences of the offence and the circumstances in which he allegedly committed the offence, and may pass an order that there is a need for trial of the said child as an adult.”
The draft preliminary assessment guidelines list the essential elements of the final report by the Juvenile Justice Board to be submitted to the children’s court. Among other things the report must include the socio- demographic details of the child; details of the procedure followed by the JJB, psychologists and other experts including the psychological tests administered.
The guidelines make it clear that the aim of the preliminary assessment is not to seek confession from the child nor to reach a conclusion of any sort. To ensure there is no bias, the final report should not include either written or verbal statements of the child or other persons interviewed; details of observations made during the assessment; or any kind of statement or document that could be incriminating in nature.
“The guidelines are formulated in a manner to not limit the experts by providing or suggesting any kind of specific assessment tool. Therefore, the guidelines have been cautiously framed as to include the essential components and basic mechanism involved in preliminary assessment to address the ambiguity in understanding of the process and steps to be followed,” it is emphasised.
The JJ Act lays down that the preliminary assessment in case of heinous offences is to be disposed of by the Juvenile Justice Board within a period of three months from the date of first production of the child before the Board. The Board will then pass an order that there is a need for trial of the child as an adult, and order transfer of the trial of the case to the children’s court having jurisdiction to try such offences. Thereafter the children’s court may decide whether there is need for trial of the child as an adult or as a child and pass appropriate orders.



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