Children are the future of our country; there are 472 million children in India under the age of 18 years. This constitutes 39% of the total population in the country. There are various issues in India faced by children like child labour, child marriage, trafficking, child begging etc. We have a strong Act, the Juvenile Justice Act, to counter these issues but we need a strong support system for the implementation of the same.
Like every adult, every child in India also has rights for his or her protection and betterment. We all are worried about street children, child beggars, orphanages etc but we totally neglect children in conflict with the law. Children who are apprehended by the police on committing a crime, are essentially those who are used by adults for illegal activities. Previously we used to call these children “juveniles” but this word created a stigma in the society. The new act provides us with better terminologies for the juveniles and now as per the Act, we call juveniles, ‘Children in Conflict with Law’. Let’s confer about the right to privacy and the right to dignity in cases of violence against the children in conflict with the law.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children – that India ratified in 1992 – all children are born with fundamental rights.
One of the child rights charter mentioned in UNCRC is the right to live with dignity under the right to survival. Dignity means being respected for who you are and what you believe in. This is the right of every child which helps children for their survival and development.
Juvenile Justice Act also focuses on the principles of dignity and privacy of children in conflict with the law. We can’t assume proper rehabilitation of children without maintaining confidentiality about the case and the identity. The basic principles of Juvenile Justice Act are connected with the rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law. The principle of dignity and worth is one of the principles of the Juvenile Justice Act. The principle explains that children in conflict with law have the right to live life with respect like any other citizen of India.
Section 74 of Juvenile Justice Act deals with the disclosure of the identity of children. Any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or audio-visual media or other forms of communication regarding any enquiry or investigation or judicial procedure, shall not disclose the name, address or school or any other particular, which may lead to the identification of a child in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection or a child victim or witness of a crime, involved in such matter. If it is in the best interest of the child, disclosure of identity is acceptable with prior permission from the board.
The Police shall not disclose any record of the child for the purpose of character certificate or otherwise in cases where the case has been closed or disposed of. If that happens, shall he be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or a fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or both. There are several cases in which due to disclosure of identity by newspapers, social media and the police, children have faced obstacles in the process of rehabilitation. Confidentiality gives opportunity for a fresh start. Principle of fresh start is one of the principles of Juvenile Justice Act.