The Juveniles accused of a crime or detained for a crime are brought before the JJB under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 (amended in 2006). Under this act and provisions of the Criminal Code Procedure, the children are not to be taken to a regular criminal court. The purpose of a separate court is socio-legal rehabilitation and reformation not punishment. The aim is to hold a child culpable for their criminal activity, not through punishment, but counselling the child to understand their actions and persuade them to remain away from criminal activities in the future.
The JJB consists of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class and two Social Workers, at least one of whom should be a woman. All three people form a bench that is to function as a unit. Though they have different roles, they are required to coordinate in the best interest of the child. When a child has been found guilty of a crime, the social workers are vital in deciding the best course of action for the rehabilitation of that child. JJB is meant to resolve cases within a four month period. A backlog of cases can be addressed with an increased number of sittings as was the case in the Mumbai JJB.
A child is usually brought before the JJB by a police officer or person from the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) (previously called JAPU). Any organization or person who brings a child before the court should inform their local police units first. The police have 24 hours to produce a child before the court once he is arrested. The person or police officer who brings the child before the JJB is required to complete a report of the arrest/detainment. Once the child has been brought before the JJB he/she is registered into the closest Observation Home. Under most circumstances, the juvenile can be released on bail by the JJB. If the police wish to interrogate the child or conduct a test identification parade, the JJB has to give an order allowing to do so and it can only be conducted in the presence of the superintendent of the home. The home Probation Officer (P.O.) in - charge will also submit a report on the child
With the police report and P.O. report, the JJB calls for the child's plea. If the child pleads guilty, the JJB will pass appropriate orders for the child. To prevent coercion, the JJB can dismiss the child's guilty plea if it feels that it was forced. If the juvenile pleads not guilty, the JJB must further investigate by calling witnesses and accusers to testify before the court. The juvenile is then given an opportunity to address the evidence brought before the court and also bring witnesses to the court. According to the evidence, the JJB will then pass an order disposing of the case as it sees fit. The JJB is a child-friendly space that should not be intimidating or overwhelming for the child.
As per the provisions of the ICPS, the Government of India provides two grants for setting up of JJBs: A Construction and Maintenance Grant of INR 7.99 lakhs and a Maintenance Grant of INR 4.99 lakhs. The cost of setting up JJBs is shared by central and state in a 35:65 Ratio except in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East where the ratio stands at 90:10.
As per section-8 of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, the Board shall, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force but save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, have power to deal exclusively with all proceedings under this Act, relating to children in conflict with law. The powers conferred on the Board by or under this Act may also be exercised by the High Court and the Children's Court, when the proceedings comes before them in appeal, revision or otherwise.
As per Sub-section 3 of Section-8 of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, the Board shall perform the following functions, namely -