An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection by catering to their basic needs through proper care, protection, development, treatment, social re-integration, by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposal of matters in the best interest of children and for their rehabilitation through processes provided, and institutions and bodies established, here in under and for matters connected therewith or incidental there to.
WHEREAS, the provisions of the Constitution confer powers and impose duties, under clause (3) of article 15, clauses (e) and (f) of article 39, article 45 and article 47, on the State to ensure that all the needs of children are met and that their basic human rights are fully protected;
AND WHEREAS, the Government of India has acceded on the 11th December, 1992 to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly of United Nations, which has prescribed a set of standards to be adhered to by all State parties in securing the best interest of the child;
AND WHEREAS, it is expedient to re-enact the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 to make comprehensive provisions for children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, taking into consideration the standards prescribed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 (the Beijing Rules), the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990), the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter- country Adoption (1993), and other related international instruments.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-sixth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—
(1) This Act may be called the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
(3) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.
(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the provisions of this Act shall apply to all matters concerning children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law, including —
(i) apprehension, detention, prosecution, penalty or imprisonment, rehabilitation and social re-integration of children in conflict with law;
(ii) procedures and decisions or orders relating to rehabilitation, adoption, re-integration, and restoration of children in need of care and protection.
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—
(1) “abandoned child” means a child deserted by his biological or adoptive parents or guardians, who has been declared as abandoned by the Committee after due inquiry;
(2) “adoption” means the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and becomes the lawful child of his adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child;
(3) “adoption regulations” means the regulations framed by the Authority and notified by the Central Government in respect of adoption;
(4) “administrator” means any district official not below the rank of Deputy Secretary to the State, on whom magisterial powers have been conferred;
(5) “aftercare” means making provision of support, financial or otherwise, to persons, who have completed the age of eighteen years but have not completed the age of twenty-one years, and have left any institutional care to join the mainstream of the society;
(6) “authorized foreign adoption agency” means a foreign social or child welfare agency that is authorized by the Central Adoption Resource Authority on the recommendation of their Central Authority or Government department of that country for sponsoring the application of non-resident Indian or overseas citizen of India or persons of Indian origin or foreign prospective adoptive parents for adoption of a child from India;
(7) “Authority” means the Central Adoption Resource Authority constituted under section 68;
(8) “begging” means—
(i) soliciting or receiving alms in a public place or entering into any private premises for the purpose of soliciting or receiving alms, under any pretense;
(ii) exposing or exhibiting with the object of obtaining or extorting alms, any sore, wound, injury, deformity or disease, whether of himself or of any other person or of an animal;
(9) “best interest of child” means the basis for any decision taken regarding the child, to ensure fulfillment of his basic rights and needs, identity, social well-being and physical, emotional and intellectual development;
(10) “Board” means a Juvenile Justice Board constituted under section 4;
(11) “Central Authority” means the Government department recognized as such under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Inter-country Adoption (1993);
(12) “child” means a person who has not completed eighteen years of age;
(13) “child in conflict with law” means a child who is alleged or found to have committed an offence and who has not completed eighteen years of age on the date of commission of such offence;
(14) “child in need of care and protection” means a child—
(i) who is found without any home or settled place of abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence; or
(ii) who is found working in contravention of labour laws for the time being in force or is found begging, or living on the street; or
(iii) who resides with a person (whether a guardian of the child or not) and such person—
(a) has injured, exploited, abused or neglected the child or has violated any other law for the time being in force meant for the protection of child; or
(b) has threatened to kill, injure, exploit or abuse the child and there is a reasonable likelihood of the threat being carried out; or
(c) has killed, abused, neglected or exploited some other child or children and there is a reasonable likelihood of the child in question being killed, abused, exploited or neglected by that person; or
(iv) who is mentally ill or mentally or physically challenged or suffering from terminal or incurable disease, having no one to support or look after or having parents or guardians unfit to take care, if found so by the Board or the Committee; or
(v) who has a parent or guardian and such parent or guardian is found to be unfit or incapacitated, by the Committee or the Board, to care for and protect the safety and well-being of the child; or
(vi) who does not have parents and no one is willing to take care of, or whose parents have abandoned or surrendered him; or
(vii) who is missing or run away child, or whose parents cannot be found after making reasonable inquiry in such manner as may be prescribed; or
(viii) who has been or is being or is likely to be abused, tortured or exploited for the purpose of sexual abuse or illegal acts; or
(ix) who is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking; or
(x) who is being or is likely to be abused for unconscionable gains; or
(xi) who is victim of or affected by any armed conflict, civil unrest or natural calamity; or
(xii) who is at imminent risk of marriage before attaining the age of marriage and whose parents, family members, guardian and any other persons are likely to be responsible for solemnization of such marriage;
(15) “child friendly” means any behavior, conduct, practice, process, attitude, environment or treatment that is humane, considerate and in the best interest of the child;
(16) “child legally free for adoption” means a child declared as such by the Committee after making due inquiry under section 38;
(17) “Child Welfare Officer” means an officer attached to a Children’s Home, for carrying out the directions given by the Committee or, as the case may be, the Board with such responsibility as may be prescribed;
(18) “Child Welfare Police Officer” means an officer designated as such under sub-section (1) of section 107;
(19) “Children’s Home” means a Children’s Home, established or maintained, in every district or group of districts, by the State Government, either by itself, or through a voluntary or non-governmental organization, and is registered as such for the purposes specified in section 50;
(20) “Children’s Court’’ means a court established under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 or a Special Court under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, wherever existing and where such courts have not been designated, the Court of Sessions having jurisdiction to try offences under the Act;
(21) “child care institution” means Children Home, open shelter, observation home, special home, place of safety, Specialised Adoption Agency and a fit facility recognised under this Act for providing care and protection to children, who are in need of such services;
(22) “Committee” means Child Welfare Committee constituted under section 27;
(23) “court” means a civil court, which has jurisdiction in matters of adoption and guardianship and may include the District Court, Family Court and City Civil Courts;
(24) “corporal punishment” means the subjecting of a child by any person to physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming the child;
(25) “childline services” means a twenty-four hours emergency outreach service for children in crisis which links them to emergency or long-term care and rehabilitation service;
(26) “District Child Protection Unit” means a Child Protection Unit for a District, established by the State Government under section 106, which is the focal point to ensure the implementation of this Act and other child protection measures in the district;
(27) “fit facility” means a facility being run by a governmental organisation or a registered voluntary or non-governmental organisation, prepared to temporarily own the responsibility of a particular child for a specific purpose, and such facility is recognised as fit for the said purpose, by the Committee, as the case may be, or the Board, under sub-section (1) of section 51;
(28) “fit person” means any person, prepared to own the responsibility of a child, for a specific purpose, and such person is identified after inquiry made in this behalf and recognised as fit for the said purpose, by the Committee or, as the case may be, the Board, to receive and take care of the child;
(29) “foster care” means placement of a child, by the Committee for the purpose of alternate care in the domestic environment of a family, other than the child’s biological family, that has been selected, qualified, approved and supervised for providing such care;
(30) “foster family” means a family found suitable by the District Child Protection Unit to keep children in foster care under section 44;
(31) “guardian” in relation to a child, means his natural guardian or any other person having, in the opinion of the Committee or, as the case may be, the Board, the actual charge of the child, and recognised by the Committee or, as the case may be, the Board as a guardian in the course of proceedings;
(32) “group foster care” means a family like care facility for children in need of care and protection who are without parental care, aiming on providing personalised care and fostering a sense of belonging and identity, through family like and community based solutions;
(33) “heinous offences” includes the offences for which the minimum punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being in force is imprisonment for seven years or more;
(34) “inter-country adoption” means adoption of a child from India by non- resident Indian or by a person of Indian origin or by a foreigner;
(35) “juvenile” means a child below the age of eighteen years;
(36) “narcotic drug” and “psychotropic substance” shall have the meanings, respectively, assigned to them in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1985;
(37) “no objection certificate” for inter-country adoption means a certificate issued by the Central Adoption Resource Authority for the said purpose;
(38) “non-resident Indian” means a person who holds an Indian passport and is presently residing abroad for more than one year;
(39) “notification” means the notification published in the Official Gazette of India, or as the case may be, in the Gazette of a State, and the expression “notify” shall be construed accordingly;
(40) “observation home” means an observation home established and maintained in every district or group of districts by a State Government, either by itself, or through a voluntary or non-governmental organisation, and is registered as such, for the purposes specified in sub-section (1) of section 47;
(41) “open shelter” means a facility for children, established and maintained by the State Government, either by itself, or through a voluntary or non-governmental organisation under sub-section (1) of section 43, and registered as such, for the purposes specified in that section;
(42) “orphan” means a child—
(i) who is without biological or adoptive parents or legal guardian; or
(ii) whose legal guardian is not willing to take, or capable of taking care of the child;
(43) “overseas citizen of India” means a person registered as such under the CitizenshipAct,1955;
(44) “person of Indian origin” means a person, any of whose lineal ancestors is or was an Indian national, and who is presently holding a Person of Indian Origin Card issued by the Central Government;
(45) “petty offences” includes the offences for which the maximum punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being in force is imprisonment up to three years;
(46) “place of safety” means any place or institution, not being a police lockup or jail, established separately or attached to an observation home or a special home, as the case may be, the person in-charge of which is willing to receive and take care of the children alleged or found to be in conflict with law, by an order of the Board or the Children’s Court, both during inquiry and ongoing rehabilitation after having been found guilty for a period and purpose as specified in the order;
(47) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
(48) “probation officer” means an officer appointed by the State Government as a probation officer under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 or the Legal-cum- Probation Officer appointed by the State Government under District Child Protection Unit;
(49) “prospective adoptive parents” means a person or persons eligible to adopt a child as per the provisions of section 57;
(50) “public place” shall have the same meaning assigned to it in the Immoral Traffic(Prevention)Act,1956;
(51) “registered”, with reference to child care institutions or agencies or facilities managed by the State Government, or a voluntary or non-governmental organisation, means observation homes, special homes, place of safety, children’s homes, open shelters or Specialised Adoption Agency or fit facility or any other institution that may come up in response to a particular need or agencies or facilities authorised and registered under section 41, for providing residential care to children, on a short-term or long-term basis;
(52) “relative”, in relation to a child for the purpose of adoption under this Act, means a paternal uncle or aunt, or a maternal uncle or aunt, or paternal grandparent or maternal grandparent;
(53) “State Agency” means the State Adoption Resource Agency set up by the State Government for dealing with adoption and related matters under section 67;
(54) “serious offences” includes the offences for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being in force, is imprisonment between three to seven years;
(55) “special juvenile police unit” means a unit of the police force of a district or city or, as the case may be, any other police unit like railway police, dealing with children and designated as such for handling children under section 107;
(56) “special home” means an institution established by a State Government or by a voluntary or non-governmental organisation, registered under section 48, for housing and providing rehabilitative services to children in conflict with law, who are found, through inquiry, to have committed an offence and are sent to such institution by an order of the Board;
(57) “Specialised Adoption Agency” means an institution established by the State Government or by a voluntary or non-governmental organisation and recognised under section 65, for housing orphans, abandoned and surrendered children, placed there by order of the Committee, for the purpose of adoption;
(58) “sponsorship” means provision of supplementary support, financial or otherwise, to the families to meet the medical, educational and developmental needs of the child;
(59) “State Government”, in relation to a Union territory, means the Administrator of that Union territory appointed by the President under article 239 of the Constitution;
(60) “surrendered child” means a child, who is relinquished by the parent or guardian to the Committee, on account of physical, emotional and social factors beyond their control, and declared as such by the Committee;
(61) all words and expressions used but not defined in this Act and defined in other Acts shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in those Acts.
The pioneering ‘Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS)’ was launched by Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India in the year 2009 which is being implemented in a mission mode by the State. It aims to provide a protective environment for all the children in order to enable them to develop into responsible individuals. It functions as a Government-Civil Society Partnership Scheme under the overreaching direction and responsibility of the Central and State Governments.
The Integrated Child Protection Scheme is expected to significantly contribute to the realization of Government/State responsibility for creating a system that will efficiently and effectively protect children. It is based on cardinal principles of ―protection of child rights‖ and ―best interest of the child‖. Hence, the ICPS objectives are: to contribute to the improvements in the well being of children in difficult circumstances, as well as to the reduction of vulnerabilities to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children. These will be achieved by:
(i) improved access to and quality of child protection services;
(ii) raised public awareness about the reality of child rights, situation and protection in India;
(iii) clearly articulated responsibilities and enforced accountability for child protection;
(iv) established and functioning structures at all government levels for delivery of statutory and support services to children in difficult circumstances;
(v) introduced and operational evidence based monitoring and evaluation.
2. Specific Objectives
2.1 To institutionalize essential services and strengthen structures:
(i) Establish and strengthen a continuum of services for emergency outreach, institutional care, family and community based care, counselling and support services;
(ii) Put in place and strengthen necessary structures and mechanisms for effective implementation of the scheme at the national, regional, state and district levels;
(iii) Define and set standards of all services including operational manuals for the functioning of statutory bodies.
2.2 To enhance capacities at all levels:
(i) Build capacities of all functionaries including administrators and service providers at all levels working under the ICPS;
(ii) Sensitize and train members of allied systems including local bodies, police, judiciary and other concerned departments of State Governments to undertake responsibilities under the ICPS.
2.3 To create database and knowledge base for child protection services:
(i) Create mechanisms for a child protection data management system including MIS and child tracking system in the country for effective implementation and monitoring of child protection services;
(ii) Undertake research and documentation.
2.4 To strengthen child protection at family and community level:
(i) Build capacities of families and community to strengthen care, protection and response to children;
(ii) Create and promote preventive measures to protect children from situations of vulnerability, risk and abuse.
THE INTEGRATED CHILD PROTECTION SCHEME 9 MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT
2.5 To ensure appropriate inter-sectoral response at all levels: Coordinate and network with all allied systems i.e. Government departments and Non-Government agencies providing services for children for effective implementation of the scheme.
2.6 To raise public awareness:
(i) Educate public on child rights and protection;
(ii) Raise public awareness at all levels on situation and vulnerabilities of children and families;
(iii) Inform the public on available child protection services, schemes and structures at all levels.
3. Guiding Principles
3.1 Child protection, a primary responsibility of family supported by community, government and civil society. It is important that respective roles are articulated clearly and understood by all parties in the effort to protect children. Government both Central and State, has an obligation to ensure a range and a continuum of services at all levels.
3.2 Loving and caring family, the best place for the child: Children are best cared for in their own families and have a right to family care and parenting by both parents.
3.3 Privacy and Confidentiality: Children‘s right to privacy and confidentiality should be protected through all the stages of service delivery.
3.4 Non-stigmatization and non-discrimination: Each child irrespective of circumstances as well as socio-economic, cultural, religious and ethnic background should be treated equally and in a dignified manner.
3.5 Prevention and reduction of vulnerabilities, central to child protection outcomes: A major thrust of the ICPS will be to strengthen the family capabilities to care for and protect the child.
3.6 Institutionalization of children, the last resort: There is a need to shift the focus of interventions from an over reliance on institutionalization of children and move towards more family and community–based alternatives for care. Institutionalization should be used as a measure of last resort after all other options have been explored.
3.7 Child centered planning and implementation: Planning and implementation of child protection policies and service delivery should be child centered at all levels, so as to ensure that the best interest of the child is protected.
3.8 Technical excellence, code of conduct: Services for children at all levels and by all providers should be provided by skilled and professional staff, including a cadre of social workers, psychologists, care givers, members of statutory bodies and lawyers, adhering to an ethical and professional code of conduct.
3.9 Flexible programming, responding to local individualised needs: Customized service delivery approach is required to respond to local needs.
3.10 Good governance, accountability and responsibility: An efficient and effective child protection system requires transparent management and decision making, accountable and responsible individuals and institutions, performance reports at all service levels and all service providers made public, including for children themselves, through child-friendly reports.
THE INTEGRATED CHILD PROTECTION SCHEME 10 MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT
4.1 Prevention: Through an outreach programme, the scheme would identify and support vulnerable families. Trained district level functionaries through effective networking and linkages with the Village and Block Level Child Protection Committees, ICDS functionaries, NGOs and local bodies would ensure convergence of services. Community capacities for protection and monitoring shall be strengthened and child protection concerns and safeguards shall be integrated in all sectors.
4.2 Promotion of Family-based Care: The scheme would pursue a conscious shift to family-based care including sponsorship, kinship care, foster care and adoption. Periodic review of children in institutional care for restoration to families would also be undertaken.
4.3 Financing: As a centrally sponsored scheme financial assistance from the Central Government will be disbursed to the State Government/ UT Administration. The Central Government shall provide a predetermined percentage of the budgeted cost. The State/UT shall in turn provide grant-in-aid to voluntary organizations under the different components of the Scheme.
4.4 Integrated service provision - range of services: Through an interface with various sectors, including health, education, judiciary, police, and labour, among others, the scheme would strive to integrate service provisions into a range of services to cater to the multiple needs of children in difficult circumstances.
4.5 Continuum of services- a feasible care plan for each child: The services under the scheme will be provided on the basis of an individual care plan, established through professional assessment. The care plan must be periodically reviewed and accordingly adjusted. Adequate services should be available as long as the child is in need of care, including follow up.
4.6 Community based service delivery: The scheme would endeavour to bring services closer to vulnerable children and families for increased access. Child care services should be available at community level integrated into a range of services with strong linkages to the PRIs and local government bodies.
4.7 Decentralization and flexibility to focus on local needs: The scheme shall decentralize planning and implementation of child protection services at the State and District level based on specific needs. The allocation of human resource shall be based on protection service requirement for quality child protection services.
4.8 Partnership Building and Community Empowerment: A key strategy for programme development and implementation would be developing close working relationships, information sharing and strategy building between government structures, civil society organizations including corporate and communities.
4.9 Quality care, standards for care and protection: All protection services—be it public or privately provided—should adhere to prescribed standards pertaining to physical infrastructure and human resource requirements, as well as protocols, methodological instructions and guidelines for services and operational manuals for functioning of statutory bodies.
4.10 Building Capacities: In order to ensure professional child protection services at all levels, the scheme would undertake regular training and capacity building of all service providers and functionaries to equip and enhance their skills, sensitivities, knowledge on child rights and standards of care and protection.
THE INTEGRATED CHILD PROTECTION SCHEME 11 MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT
4.11 Monitoring and Evaluation: The scheme would set up a child protection data management system to formulate and implement effective intervention strategies and monitor their outcomes. Regular evaluation of the programmes and structures would be conducted and course correction would be undertaken.
5. Target Groups
The ICPS will focus its activities on children in need of care and protection and children in conflict and contact with the law:
a) Child in need of care and protection means a child who:
(i) is found without any home or settled place or abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence;
(ii) resides with a person (whether a guardian of the child or not) and such person has threatened to kill or injure the child and there is a reasonable likelihood of the threat being carried out or has killed, abused or neglected some other child or children and there is a reasonable likelihood of the child in question being killed, abused or neglected by that person;
(iii) is a mentally or physically challenged or ill child or a child suffering from terminal diseases or incurable diseases, and/or having no one to support or look after him/her ;
(iv) has a parent or guardian and such parent or guardian is unfit or incapacitated to care for or supervise the child;
(v) does not have a parent/parents and no one is willing to take care of him/her, or whose parents have abandoned him/her or who is a missing and/or runaway child and whose parents cannot be found after reasonable inquiry;
(vi) is being or is likely to be grossly abused, tortured or exploited for the purpose of sexual abuse or illegal acts;
(vii) is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking;
(viii) is being or is likely to be abused for unconscionable gains;
(ix) is victim of any armed conflict, civil commotion or natural calamity.
b) Child in conflict with law is one who is alleged to have committed an offence.
c) Child in contact with law is one who has come in contact with the law either as victim or as a witness or due to any other circumstance.
The ICPS will also provide preventive, statutory and care and rehabilitation services to any other vulnerable child including, but not limited to: children of potentially vulnerable families and families at risk, children of socially excluded groups like migrant families, families living in extreme poverty, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, families subjected to or affected by discrimination, minorities, children infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, child drug abusers, children of substance abusers, child beggars, trafficked or sexually exploited children, children of prisoners, and street and working children.
6. Government- Civil Society Partnership
In order to reach out to all children, in particular to those in difficult circumstances, the Ministry of Women and Child Development proposes to combine its existing child protection schemes under one centrally sponsored scheme titled “Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS)”. The proposed ICPS brings together multiple vertical schemes under one comprehensive child protection programme and integrates interventions for protecting children and preventing harm.
It does not see child protection as the exclusive responsibility of the MWCD but stresses that other sectors have vital roles to play. The Ministry looks at child protection holistically and seeks to THE INTEGRATED CHILD PROTECTION SCHEME 12 MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT rationalize programs for creating a strong protective environment for children, diversify and institutionalize essential services for children, mobilize inter-sectoral response for strengthening child protection and set standards for care and services.
ICPS will function as a Government – Civil Society Partnership scheme under the overarching direction and responsibility of the Central and State Governments. The Government is aware that improving situation of millions of India‘s children in difficult circumstances requires an integrated effort and strong partnership of many stakeholders. Government cannot achieve this task alone. Therefore, the ICPS will work closely with all stakeholders including government departments, the voluntary sector, community groups, academia and, most importantly, families and children to create protective environment for children in the country. Its holistic approach to child protection services and mechanisms is reflected in strong lateral linkages and complementary systems for vigilance, detection and response. The scheme visualizes a structure for providing services as well as monitoring and supervising the effective functioning of child protection system involving:
a) Government: Government of India (GOI) will have the primary responsibility for the development and funding of the scheme as well as ensuring flexibility by cutting down rigid structures and norms. The GOI will also create an integrated live web-based database on children including child tracking systems and a Management Information System. It will be the responsibility of the State Governments/UT Administrations to ensure effective implementation of the scheme by quick devolution and utilization of funds. State Governments/UT Administrations will attract the best professional talent and strengthen public-private partnership. The scheme proposes to hire the services of professionals on a contractual basis. The State Governments/UT Administrations will manage the database that includes child tracking system and MIS at the state and district levels.