Rights of Minors in Civil & Criminal Cases


Rights of Minors in Civil & Criminal Cases

Rights of Minors in Civil Cases:

Civil Procedure Code (CPC):

  1. Guardianship and Representation: Under Order XXXII of the CPC, a minor must be represented by a guardian in any civil litigation. The court appoints a "guardian ad litem" to protect the minor's interests during the proceedings.

  2. Compromise or Settlement: Any compromise or settlement in a suit involving a minor must receive the court's approval to ensure it is in the best interest of the minor.

  3. Protection of Property Rights: Courts are responsible for protecting the property rights of minors and ensuring that any disposition or transaction involving a minor's property is scrutinized for fairness.

Rights of Minors in Criminal Cases:

Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC):

  1. Juvenile Justice: The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, which operates alongside the CRPC, provides that minors (individuals under 18 years of age) are treated differently from adults. Special Juvenile Police Units and Child Welfare Committees are set up to handle juvenile cases.

  2. Separate Trials: Minors accused of crimes are tried in Juvenile Justice Boards, not regular criminal courts. These boards focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.

  3. Confidentiality: Proceedings involving minors are held in camera (closed court), and the identity of the minor is protected from public disclosure.

  4. Legal Aid: Minors are entitled to free legal aid at the expense of the state to ensure fair representation in court.

Indian Evidence Act:

  1. Competency to Testify: Section 118 of the Indian Evidence Act states that all persons, including minors, are competent to testify unless they are unable to understand the questions or provide rational answers due to age, disease, or other reasons.

  2. Corroboration: Testimonies of minors in criminal cases, especially in sensitive cases like sexual offenses, may require corroboration as a safeguard against unreliability due to immaturity.

  3. Special Provisions for Examination: The courts may use special procedures to examine child witnesses, such as allowing a trusted adult to be present, to reduce the trauma of court appearances.

Constitution of India:

  1. Right to Education: Article 21A provides the right to free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 and 14.

  2. Protection from Exploitation: Articles 23 and 24 protect minors from human trafficking, forced labor, and employment in hazardous conditions.

Indian Penal Code (IPC):

  1. Age of Criminal Responsibility: Section 82 of the IPC states that children under the age of 7 years are incapable of committing an offense. Section 83 extends limited immunity to children aged 7 to 12 years, subject to the maturity and understanding of the child.

  2. Special Offenses: Certain sections of the IPC provide enhanced punishment for offenses against minors, such as kidnapping (Section 363), and sexual offenses (Sections 375, 376, and the POCSO Act).

These laws collectively ensure that minors are given special consideration and protection in both civil and criminal legal proceedings in India.

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