In Maharashtra State, there are five pieces of social legislation, the aim of three of which is to protect children and to  prevent juveniles, adolescents and young adults from becoming habitual criminals. They are (1) The Bombay Children Act  (LXXI of 1948), (2) The Bombay Borstal Schools Act (XVIII of  1929) and (3) The Bombay Probation of Offenders Act (XIX of  1938). The remaining two, viz., the Bombay Prevention of  Begging Act, 1959 and the Bombay Habitual Offenders Act,  1959, deal with the prevention of crime and treatment of offenders.

While the Children Act deals with children below 16 years of age the Bombay Borstal Schools Act, 1929, is applied to adolescents between 16 and 21. The Probation of Offenders Act pro-vides for supervision of offenders of any age, especially those between 21 and 25 and those who have not committed offences punishable with death or transportation for life. The Women's and Children s institutions Licensing Act, 1956, is also being implemented. Under the provisions of this Act, every social welfare institution is required to obtain licence for safeguarding  the interests of the children, girls and women entrusted to its care.

Children Act.

The Bombay Children Act consolidates all previous laws relating to the custody, protection, treatment and rehabilitation of children and youthful offenders and also to the trial of youthful offenders. It gives protection to four principal classes of children, viz., (1) those who are neglected, destitute or living in immoral surroundings and those who are in moral danger; (2) uncontrollable children who are reported as such by their parents, (3) children who are used for begging and such other purposes by mercenery persons and (4) young delinquents who either in the company or at the instigation of elderly persons or by themselves commit offences under various laws of the land. Such children are taken charge of either by the police or by officers known as probation officers and in most cases are kept in Remand Homes. A Remand Home is primarily a place where a child can be safely accommodated until its case is decided by the juvenile court. It is also a place where a child's character and behaviour can be minutely observed and its needs can be fully provided for, after wise and careful consideration. After the enquiries regarding their home conditions and antecedents are completed they are placed before juvenile courts and dealt with according to the provisions of the Children Act. If the home conditions are found to be satisfactory and if what is needed is only friendly guidance and supervision, they are restored to their parents and placed under the supervision of a trained probation officer. If the home conditions arc unwhole-some and uncongenial, the children are committed to institutions known as ' certified schools' or ' fit person institutions'.

The term ' fit person' includes a fit person institution which in relation to the care of any child means any association or body of individuals whether incorporated or not, established for or having for its object the reception or protection of children or the prevention of cruelty to children or which undertakes to bring up or to give facilities for bringing up any child entrusted to its care in conformity with the religion of its birth. In all these schools or institutions the children receive formal education and training according to their individual aptitudes, in carpentry, smithy, book binding, tailoring, agriculture, weaving, poultry farming, gardening, cane work, knitting, etc. Youthful offenders when implicated in any offence along with adult offenders have to be tried separately in juvenile courts. The technique employed in juvenile courts is entirely different from that in other courts. Juvenile courts are held in Remand Homes. Penal terms such as "sentence' and 'conviction' ate substituted by 'commitment', and the term 'punishment' is described as treatment. The children are regarded as innocents and victims or circumstances or of the wrong treatment received from the adults.

Adolescent offenders coming under the Borstal Schools Act are sent for detention and training in the Borstal School, Kolhapur. Factory work and agriculture form two of the main heads of vocational training. Weaving, smithy and manufacture of furniture and stationery are some of the other vocations taught to these offenders. The adolescents sent to this school are given such individual training and formal education and are subjected to such disciplinary and moral influences as will be conducive to their reformation. However, boys found to be too incorrigible or unsociable to be kept in the Borstal School are transferred to the juvenile section of the Yeravada Prison. Similarly, if the Inspector-General of Prisons is of the opinion that any prisoner in the juvenile section can be better treated to his advantage if he is sent to the Borstal School, he is accordingly transferred. Both juveniles and adolescents, when they have finished a certain period of residence in the institutions to which they are sent and have acquired some proficiency in trade, are released under a licence as prescribed under the rules, to live in homes, or if they are destitutes, in 'After Care Hostels' (institutions run by non-official agencies) under supervision and efforts are made to find employment for them.

Machinery to enforce legislation. Non-Official.

For the proper enforcement of the lesnslative enactments mentioned above, machinery, both official and non-official, is provided. The non-official machinery is provided by the Maharashtra State Probation and After Care Association, Poona, with a net-work of affiliated bodies called the District Probation and After Care Associations. These associations provide Remand Homes and After Care Hostels and also employ probation officers to conduct enquiries regarding the home conditions and antecedents of the delinquents and also to supervise the young persons released either directly by courts or on licence from certified schools and Borstal School. As regards the offenders dealt with under the Probation of Offenders Act, the work of the district association pertains to making preliminary enquiries regarding the cases of alleged offenders referred to them and to carry out, in selected areas, supervision of offenders released on probation.


The official agency for this purpose now is the Correctional Administration Wing of the Directorate of Social Welfare.

In 1957, the Government constituted the Directorate of Social Welfare and set up a single organisation to look after various social welfare activities of the Government at the executive level on a co-ordinated basis. The Directorate of Social Welfare too over the activities of the Juvenile and Beggar's department and other social activities, viz., the education of the blind, dumb and mentally retarded, youth welfare, recreation and leisure-time activities (including cultural activities), matters pertaining state homes, district shelters, reception centres under the moral and social hygiene programme, training for research in social work (including socio-economic surveys) and management of destitute homes. The Directorate of Social Welfare also issues licences to institutions doing social welfare under the Women's and Children's Institutions Licensing Act, 1956.

All this work is being executed by the Directorate of Social Welfare through the Divisional Social Welfare Officers at Bombay, Poona, Nagpur and Aurangabad who in turn implement various schemes through the District Social Welfare Officers, Chief Officers under the Bombay Probation of Offenders Act and Superintendents of the Remand Homes, Certified Schools, Beggars' Homes, Schools for the Physically Handicapped and other institutions under the Social and Moral Hygiene Programme.

There is one Remand Home at Chandrapur with 120 inmates on remand under the Children Act. In addition, one ' fit person institution ', viz., Bal Seva Mandir, is functioning at Chandrapur for care and treatment of court committed children.