Crimes perpetrated by juveniles or those under 18 years of age have been on the rise in the country. While debates rage about the future of the juvenile accused in the December 16 gangrape case who completes his three-year term this month, the NCRB indicates a fairly steep hike in the number of juveniles who have committed crimes in the country.
According to NCRB, juveniles apprehended for alleged crimes in 2014 stood at 48,230 – about 5,000 more than those apprehended in 2013. Of these, the total number of cases registered under various sections of the IPC or Special and Local Laws (SLL) were 38,565.
The number of rape cases registered against juveniles was approximately 2,000 while cases of molestation were roughly 1,576. Cases of causing grievous injury were 1,576 while theft ranked highest at 6,705.
States which saw the highest number of juveniles accused of and apprehended for rape in 2014 were Madhya Pradesh (343), Maharashtra (208), Uttar Pradesh (176) and Rajasthan (149). Delhi stood at 120. Registered cases of murder by juveniles was highest for Maharasthra at 121 followed by Madhya Pradesh at (94).
A senior Delhi Police officer said, “All crimes have been on the increase commensurate with population increase. Crimes committed by juveniles increased as well. But in the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, there was an increase of 143 per cent in the crimes.”
He attributed many reasons for the rise: most of the heinous crimes, he said, were mapped in urban areas where income disparities were high and ever widening.
“Most homes are too poor to educate their children and give them a stable upbringing in a settled family. With no school, and a high drop out rate, these children tend to spend several hours of the day in the company of adult anti-social elements and get inducted into the world of crime,” he added.
Another reason behind the increase in crimes like rape on the part of juveniles is the lack of nuanced system of registration and recording of cases.
“Many cases of rape against juveniles are actually cases of consensual sex or elopements. When parents of the girl discover the relationship or affair, they report the matter to police as one of rape. So figures can be warped regarding the nature of the crimes and the heads they are registered under,” a station house officer in a police station in West Delhi said.
According to data released by the NCRB, 36.1 per cent of cases against juveniles were pending disposal in courts while seven per cent cases resulted in acquittals or were disposed of. In 17.5 per cent juveniles were sent to special homes, 16.4 per cent were released on probation under the care of parents or guardians, 14.7 per cent were “sent home after advice or admonition” and 4.6 per cent were issused fines whilee 4.6 per cent were released on probation under the care of appointed institutions.
Due to the sensitive nature of crimes, circumstances, neither names nor any information regarding the identity of juveniles is supposed to be made public by police, courts or other bodies like the media as directed by the Juvenile Justice Act.
Moreover, juveniles are apprehended, not arrested by police in the event of an FIR. They are not sent to prisons but correctional homes for stipulated periods of time which can go up to a maximum period of 3 years. The crimes they have committed in the years prior to adulthood never feature in their records or police clearance certificates.