Yes, the police can arrest children if they believe they have committed a crime. Typically, police stations will have a child welfare protection officer ( Section 107 of JJ Act 2015) and in each district and city, there will be at least one special juvenile police unit. When the police arrest a child on suspicion of committing a crime, this should normally be done by a Special Juvenile Police Unit. If a regular police officer arrests the child, then the child should immediately be placed under the care of the Juvenile Police Unit, or a designated Child Welfare Police Officer. (Section 10 of JJ Act 2015 ).
The police can also arrest children who have run away from an institution where they were placed under the JJ Act (Section 26 of JJ Act 2015 ), such as an Observation Home (Section 47 of JJ Act 2015) , Special Home or Place of Safety (Section 49 of JJ Act 2015).
In certain circumstances for example, with respect to habitual thieves), the Magistrate can order that adults be detained in prison if they do not execute a bond for good behaviour or peace. (The Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 - Section 106). Even though arrests of children are allowed, the Magistrate cannot order a similar detention with respect to children. (Section 22 of JJ Act 2015).
The police cannot handcuff you or exert any force when they arrest you (Rule 8(3)(ii), Model Rules).
A child can never be kept in a police lockup or regular jail. The police must bring you before the JJB within 24 hours (Section 10 of JJ Act 2015). If the police does not release you immediately on bail, you can only be kept in an Observation Home (Section 12 of JJ Act 2015) until you are taken to the JJB (within 24 hours). The police are also supposed to inform a child welfare officer who is supposed to accompany you to the JJB for the first hearing. (Rule 8(2)(iii), Model Rules).
The police have a duty to tell your parents or guardians why you have been arrested. They can ask the police for the charges under which you have been arrested.
If the police have registered an FIR (or first information report), they have a duty to give your parents or guardians a copy of this FIR (Rule 8(3)(iii), Model Rules). An FIR is the document prepared by the police when they get any information about a crime that has occurred. To know more about FIRs click here.
While the inquiry is going on, you can only be detained in Observation Homes or a Place of Safety. The JJB has to tell you how long you will be detained in the order (Section 12 of JJ Act 2015).
What happens to you once you've been arrested depends on the kind of the crime you've been accused of.
The JJ Act 2015 inserted a new scheme which divided crimes into three categories: Petty, Serious and Heinous.
The manner in which the JJB must conduct its proceedings will now depend on the type of the crime you have been accused of committing. Now, the JJB must first look at the nature of the offence. Different procedures are adopted for different kinds of offences.
If the inquiry is about Heinous Offences, then it becomes crucial to determine whether the child is above or below the age of 16 years. If the child is below 16 years, the JJB conducts an inquiry just like it would for a Serious Offence i.e., where a summons case procedure is followed. But if the child is older than 16, then the JJB must conduct a ‘Preliminary Assessment’ (Section 14 of JJ Act 2015.) .
If a child is above 16 years, and is alleged to have committed a Heinous Offence, the JJ Act allows for the proceedings to be conducted under normal procedures like an adult and not the child-friendly procedures of the JJ Act. To decide whether a child should be tried by regular procedure, the JJB must conduct a ‘Preliminary Assessment’ . (Section 14 of JJ Act 2015).
The Preliminary Assessment is an attempt to find out whether the child was mature enough to understand her acts and their consequences. The JJB can take the help of trained psychologists and experts to arrive at its conclusions, (Section 15 of JJ Act 2015), but must complete the inquiry within 3 months. (Section 14 of JJ Act 2015).
If the JJB passes an order to keep proceedings under the Act and not send the case to the regular court, the government can appeal against this order.
When the JJB decides that a child should be tried as an adult after a Preliminary Assessment, it sends the case to a Children’s Court (Section 18 of JJ Act 2015 . The Children’s Court may be an existing Sessions Court that is dealing with child-specific laws, or a special court set up for the purpose of dealing with crimes under the JJ Act. (Section 2 of JJ Act 2015).
The Children’s Court may do one of the following two things (Section 19 of JJ Act 2015).
In all proceedings, the Children’s Court must ensure a child-friendly atmosphere is maintained. It must also ensure that the child be sent to a Place of Safety if detained during proceedings. If she is found guilty of a having committing the Heinous Offence, she will be sent to the Place of Safety until she becomes 21 years old, after which she can be sent to jail (Section 20 of JJ Act 2015.) . The child should have access to reformative services (like education, skill development) when she is at the Place of Safety.
Source : Nyaaya