Child is preferred as a most innocent creature of God. There is a principle that “the younger the child in age, lesser the probability of being corrupt.” One of the theories of punishment states that no one is born criminal. It means the circumstances, upbringing, environment and other factors play an important role. So, can a child be punished for an act which he himself has no idea about the nature and consequences?
That is the reason why a child is protected against criminal charge Section 82 and 83 of Indian Penal Code.
Section 82 of Indian Penal Code provides absolute immunity to a child who is below the age of 7 years because they are considered as “doli in capax”. The reason behind it is a child has no adequate discretion or understanding of his own actions.
Blackstone also explained the reason behind providing immunity to the infant – “Infancy is a defect of the understanding and infants under the age of discretion ought not to be punished by any criminal prosecution whatsoever”.
Section 82 and 83 provides immunity to a child from ouminial prosecution under Indian Penal Code as well as under special and local laws.
Section 83 of Indian Penal Code states that nothing is an offence if committed by a child above seven years and twelve years provided that he has not attained the maturity of understanding the nature and consequences of his own act.
Although the age may vary from country to country. For eg – age of absolute immunity from criminal liability in Russia is below 16 years. While in the U.S.A it is 7 years to 12 years, subject to change on the basis of States. In England, it is 10 years to 14 years. Age of absolute and conditional immunity from criminal liability of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mayanmar, Bangladesh is similar to India i.e under 7 years (absolute) and 7 to 12 years (conditional)