In India, children often inherit crime, says Justice Chandrachud

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Citing National Crime Records Bureau data, he said that in 2015, 42.39 per cent children in conflict with the law belonged to families with an income up to Rs 25,000.

There is a “correlation between deprivation of economic resources and juvenile delinquency” and a “holistic approach focused on aspects such as deprivation and poverty is necessary” to address this, Supreme Court judge D Y Chandrachud said on Saturday.

Delivering the keynote address at the fifth National Juvenile Justice Consultation, organised by the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Justice and UNICEF here, Justice Chandrachud said that in India, children often “inherit crime” — they are born into unfortunate circumstances which push them into substance abuse and violence.

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Citing National Crime Records Bureau data, he said that in 2015, 42.39 per cent children in conflict with the law belonged to families with an income up to Rs 25,000; 28.26 per cent of such children belonged to families with an income between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000. Only 2.30 per cent of such children belonged to families within the higher income bracket of between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh, he said.

Justice Deepak Gupta, who is also chairman of the top court’s JJ Committee, in his welcome address said that juvenile homes and other similar institutions for children lack the emotional quotient necessary for their healthy growth. He stressed the need to explore possibilities of alternative systems of care.

Justice Gupta said, “...The institutions should be small, homely places where the children and caretakers live like a family.”

Another problem faced by children in such institutions, he said, is that they are shown the door the day they turn 18. He said, “We need to hold hands of these children leaving care to ensure that they develop as young adults and mature into fine human beings”.