AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY AND THE CHILD CRIMINAL JUSTICE: IMPERATIVES OF DEVELOPMENTAL MODEL OF JUVENILE JUSTICE FOR INDIA

Muzaffar Hussain Mir

Abstract


In the recent past, there has been the debate in India with respect to the concept of age at which the person could be held responsible for committing offences. There was an uninformed public rhetoric calling for the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility from the established age of 18 years as it is believed that the persons in the age group of 16-18 years are ‘mature enough’ to be tried as an adult and they lay more emphasis on the crime control and public safety rather than the child welfare. The very concept of ‘child’, which has been hostage to ‘binary classification’, should be revamped as the persons in the age group of 16 – 18 years comes neither in the age group of “children” nor in the age group of the “adults”. This paper is an effort to add to the discourse on ‘age of criminal responsibility’ by reviewing the debate in its whole contour by analyzing the concept of child as prevalent in India in light of the concept of ‘child’ under the International Child Law and the problems in the very concept of child as was introduced in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Child) Act, 2015. Further, an effort will be made to lay down propositions for the rational and scientifically viable Age-of-Criminal-Responsibility based on the ‘Developmental Model of juvenile justice’ which analyses both aspects of maturity of an individual i.e. Physiological as well as Psychosocial.


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