In the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case in India, a big question has arisen with regard to the correctness of the existing age of criminal responsibility in India. The following paper will work on the issue and problems to draw a suitable conclusion with regard to the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system. At present age of criminal responsibility in India is regulated according to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2016 (hereinafter referred as JJ Act, 2016) but from past few years the issue of the age is been very debatable on all platform from media to court of law.
The minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is the age below which a person is completely immune from any criminal liability due to lack of maturity and judgement to understand the consequences of one’s actions. Next comes the age below which a person is considered vulnerable and immature and hence cannot be made fully responsible for one’s actions. This is the period of childhood and adolescence and crime committed during this stage is dealt with by most nations under special laws known as juvenile justice laws. Juvenile delinquency is on the increase today and one of the major issues faced by the world. India is also struggling with juveniles committing serious and grave offences. Thus arises the question if the juvenile laws in the country are too soft and require improvements. How does one ascertain the reasonable punishment for a child? How does one ensure deterrence as well as restoration?