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Dictionary of Psychology, Reber (1995) wrote:

Psychology simply cannot be defined; indeed, it cannot even be easily characterized . . . Psychology is what scientists and philosophers of various persuasions have created to . . . understand the minds and behaviors of various organisms from the most primitive to the most complex . . . It is an attempt to understand what has so far pretty much escaped understanding, and any effort to circumscribe it or box it in is to imply that something is known about the edges of our knowledge, and that must be wrong. (p. 617)

Psychology has been defined as the scientific study of mind and other mental aspects in order to comprehend a person's behaviour, characteristics and personality. To analyze how individual characteristics may interact with the social environment to produce a violent event, how mental processes impact individual propensities for violence. It includes sub fields like human development, cognitive thinking, personality development, sports, health, recreational activities, social behaviour, recreative thinking, communication skills, etc. It aims to predict future human behavioural characteristics from the finding of empirical study and if predictions fail to meet the required result, then finding is revised. For example, classical psychology predicts that if the person thought of a negative outcome with a stimuli, they may develop phobia or aversion of the stimuli. The emphasis on contemporary subject matter of psychology includes cause and consequences of behaviour.


The psychological theories of crime constituted upon three major theories namely: psychodynamic theory, cognitive theory and behavioural theory.

Firstly, the psychodynamic theory emphasis on the individual’s early childhood experience which might affect his/her likelihood to commit crime like harsh behaviour by way of beating of child by his father might provoke him to commit domestic violence to his wife or other family members in future. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis observed three elements which make up the personality mainly, id, ego and superego.

The first stage of Id represents unconscious biological desire for food, sex and other necessarities of life in other words, instant pleasure without concern for others called pleasure principle. The second stage, ego, is developed in early childhood, like stealing the material of school friends which is ignored by teachers can develop a habit of that children to keep stealing the material. This stage shows the reality in the sense that individual childhood desires are made to face problems associated with it and define the boundary of the society within which one should work. The last stage entails development of the personality in accordance with moral standards and values of the community. When the crime is committed, psychoanalysis theorists suggest that the individual has underdeveloped superego.

Thus, this theory shows that individuals commit crime due to their immoral attitude or some event unfavourable to them in their early childhood like uncaring, negligent, dissatisfaction, lack of love and affection. The researcher suggests that criminals who have weak ego by way of low social participation, lacking social standard and etiquette are more likely to be involved in drug abuse.

Secondly, cognitive theory suggests the individual perception or opinion about the matter and its behaviour is manifested. The theory is more of moral and intellectual development. It rests on how individuals perceive the social environment and attempt to solve problems coming across them. Piaget (1932) states that a person's reasoning abilities developed in orderly and logical fashion.

According to Kohlberg, violent youth are less prone to moral and ethical development than non-violent youth. His research concluded that “people who obey the law simply to avoid punishment (i.e., out of self-interest) are more likely to commit acts of violence than are people who recognize and sympathize with the fundamental rights of others”. Thus, people with higher levels of moral reasoning are less likely to commit crime or act in criminal behaviour because they think it wrong out of their inner morality and common consciousness of public welfare.

Thirdly, behavioural theory as the name suggests emphasis on behaviour of the individual and its personality and social learning and how the global perspective influences his behaviour. The theorist suggests that an individual is not born violent but becomes violent due to day to day circumstances which provoke him to develop such behaviour. Such behaviour develops by imitation of friends, relatives and other members because of glorification or rewarding of violent activities like a husband being appreciated by his family members for controlling his wife by beating and admonishing in public. The theorist states four factors which produce violence: a) stressful events like threat, assault; b) aggregative skills learnt from others; c) a belief that violence or aggressive behaviour would be rewarded; d) a value system that condones violent acts within society.


The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 was enacted on 31 December, 2015 with the objective to reframe law relating to juvenile who are alleged and found to have committed the offence i.e. child in conflict with law or need of protection and care of child through following various measures like social rehabilitation, development, protection, treatment in child friendly manner and in the best interest of the child. It had taken into consideration international conventions and treaties like 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).

It consists of two major bodies: Juvenile Justice Board and Child welfare committee, wherein former tackle cases in conflict with law which means a child alleged or found to have committed the offence below 18 years of age on the date of commission of crime as provided under section 2(13) of the Act. For the purpose of rehabilitation and reformation, there is an observation Home, Special Home and place of safety. On other hand, the committee handling children in need of care and protection took care and protection (provided under section 2(14) of the Act) working on institutions like open shelter, child home, specialised adoption agency (SAA). In case of an abandoned child, the concerned committee took him/her to the hospital to get a medical examination and after conducting inquiry, the child can be adopted under SAA. Moreover, children are categories into orphan(S.2 (42)) and abandoned children (S.2(1)) and parents or guardian become incapacitated or unfir either physically oe mentally to care, protect and ensure well being of the children, etc (S.2(14)).


The Juvenile Justice Board shall consist of Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate of first class having at least three years of experience and two social workers including one woman member. The bench shall have the power conferred under Cr.P.C, 1973. The board shall subject a child in conflict with law if not released on bail then he/she shall be sent in place of safety during the process of inquiry according to procedure and provision of this Act. the child in conflict with law may be produced before an individual member of the board when the board is not in sitting.

The child in conflict with law is alleged, he shall be placed under the charge of the special juvenile police unit or the designated child welfare police officer,who shall produce the child within 24 hours excluding the time for journey. The concerned authority shall inform following persons:

  • Parents or guardian of the child to appear before the board

  • Probation officer or in his absence, Child Welfare Officer shall submit a social investigation report within two weeks about the antecedent, family background and other material relevant for inquiry.

  • If the child is released on bail, such information must be intimated to the Probation officer or Child Welfare Officer by the Board.

The preliminary assessment revealing heinous offences shall be disposed off within three months while assessment revealing petty offence if not concluded within time shall be terminated. The petty offence shall be disposed by Board through summary proceeding under Cr.P.C and serious offence including heinous offence below 16 years of child on the date of commission of crime shall be disposed of by Board as in trial of summon case under Cr.P.C. The person committing a heinous offence above 16 years of age, the Board shall conduct preliminary inquiry with assistance of psychologist and psycho-social worker to understand his ability to know consequences of offence, offenders capacity to commit crime, circumstances which led the child commit offence and thereafter pass order.

The Board shall follow procedure for trial in summon case under Cr.P.C. It will conduct an inquiry which shall be completed within four months from the date of first production of the child which can be extended for two more months. The board ensures fair and speedy trial by following steps: not subjected to ill treatment, child friendly atmosphere during proceeding, opportunity of being heard and heard in the injury. The order of the Board shall be appealable before the session court while taking the assistance of psychologist and medical specialist in passing the order.

The order of the Board declares the child as an adult, and the Board may transfer the proceeding to Children’s Court having jurisdiction for trial of the case. The children court passing order must consider special needs of the child, fair trial and child friendly atmosphere; it shall consist of a care plan for rehabilitation and sent to place of safety till he attain 21 years of age and thereafter shall be sent to jail. Provided that there will follow up a report to identify his progress in place of safety by the probation officer or the District Child Protection Unit or a social worker which shall be forward to Children Court for record.

After attaining 21 years of age, the court shall provide a follow up report as in to identify whether to undergo reformative changes or contribute as a member of society. The progress record of the child along with expert evaluation has to be considered. The Children Court may decide to release the child on the conditions or shall complete the remainder of term in jail but not punished for life imprisonment or death penalty. If the child runs away from a special home, observation home or place of safety then a police officer may take charge and shall produce the child in conflict before the board within 24 hours and send him to the similar institution for fulfilling the best interest of the child.

After conducting an inquiry by the Board, if it seems necessary for the child need for supervision or intervention in social investigation report and past conduct can direct following steps:

Direct child to go home after warning or counselling of the parents; participate in group counselling’ performed community services; sent to special home not exceeding three years including education, skill development, counselling, behaviour modification therapy, and psychiatric support; if the child welfare has been misconceived then board may sent him to place of safety.

Further, the person (child) apprehends to bailable and non-bailable offence and is detained by police or appears or brought before the Board, he shall be released on bail with or without surety or placed under charge of probation officer or fit person. However, the board shall not release on bail with recording reasons if there is reasonable ground that he might associate with the criminal community and in return cause danger to society. The denial of bail requires the officer in charge of the Police Station to place him in an observation home or place of safety until the person can be brought before the board or during pendency of inquiry.

The power conferred by the board may also be exercised by High Court and Children court when the matter came before them under section 19 or in appeal, revision or otherwise. The person is child at the date of commission of crime claim before court other board then such court shall make an inquiry and take evidence necessary to determine age of the person and present and record the finding of the case. With such determination of age, he may be placed in place of safety for such a period of time. If the court finds the person was a child at the time of offence, the court shall send the child to the Board and thereafter the board would take the appropriate direction or order as it deem fit and if passed, court decision has no effect.


The committee handles children in need of care and protection and ensures sensitisation of all members within two months from the date of notification. The committee works as a bench with powers conferred under Cr.P.C on metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate of First Class. The District Magistrate shall be a redressal grievance authority in which anyone can file petition and thereafter Magistrate pass order.

The members of the committee visit the children care institutions to ensure function and well being of children and if children are to be placed in children home, he can be produced even before individual members of the committee when the committee is not in session. The jurisdiction of the committee to dispose of the case related to care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of children in need of care, basic need and protection and any other proceeding under this act for children in need of care and protection.

The committee is responsible for performing following functions:

  • Conducting inquiry related to safety and well being of the children

  • Directing Child Welfare Officers or probation officers or District Child Protection Unit or non-governmental organisations to institute social investigation reports and submit them.

  • Locating registered institutions for placing the child requiring institutional support.

  • Two inspection visits per month of residential facilities for children in need of care

  • Declaration for orphan, deserted and abandonment child for adoption after inquiry

  • Taking suo moto case for children in need of care and protection or who had been sexually abused and reported as children in need of care and protection by Special Juvenile Police Unit or local police, as the case may be, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

  • Coordinate and cooperate with the local police officer, labour department and other agencies with support of the District child Protection Unit or State Government.

  • In case of complaint for abuse in a children care institution, injury shall be conducted and give directions to the police or the District Child Protection Unit or labour department or childline services as the case may be.

  • Provide free legal aid in coordination with the State legal service Authority.


Across India, juvenile homes have the direst of reputations. A 2013 report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), “India’s Hell Holes: Child Sexual Assault In Juvenile Justice Homes", has this to say: “It will not be an understatement to state that juvenile justice homes….have become India’s hell holes where inmates are subjected to sexual assault and exploitation, torture and ill-treatment, apart from being forced to live in inhuman conditions”. The report also highlight 39 cases of sexual assault on children in observation home, juvenile home, shelter home and orphanage. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) direct investigation for physical and sexual abuse of youth children by older youth in Juvenil observation home in Meerut. The allegation was made by a 17 year old boy who was among 43 children who escaped from the observation home.


It was said by one clinical psychologist that individuals need six months to two months for transformation. However, children in conflict with law coming from violent backgrounds are adamant and firm on their ideology, being a clean slate i.e. performing acts served to them in consideration to benefit, interest and money. All these factors create hurdles to the process of personality development and social reintegration. There is also likelihood of the children release on bail either join adult offender as they acknowledged which create deep impression about the fact that they can easily be released on bail with or without surety and not punished with death penalty or life imprisonment. Such beliefs in turn create future offenders, detrimental not only endanger society with dire consequences but also protect, preserve and maintain peace and harmony in the public. Even in today’s times, people are unaware that children begging or working in violation of labor law, sexual assault, human trafficking can be send to observation home or place of safety for rehabilitation, reformation and social integration along with working in the best interest of the child.



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