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Parliamentary Panel Rejects Changes in Juvenile Act
Mar 04, 2015

Responding to representations filed by civil rights activists, a parliamentary panel has rejected amendments in the Juvenile Justice Act as proposed by the government to treat juveniles aged 16-18 years, accused in cases of rape and other heinous crimes, as adults. 

Key Points

  • The Committee pointed out in its report, the aim of the juvenile justice system is to treat all children equally within the system.

  • The committee also pulled the government for ignoring the judgment of the Supreme Court while giving approval to the amendments. 

  • The committee also felt certain clauses are in clear violation of the constitution.

In August 2014, Union Cabinet had proposed drastic changes in the Act, in view of rising juvenile crimes. The move is expected to reignite the debate over the amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act, which had been proposed by the ministry of women and child development. According to amendments, minor above 16 years of age involved in heinous crimes could be tried in an adult court if the Juvenile Justice Board decides so. But following objections from child rights groups, the government had referred it to a standing committee. The decision to amend the Juvenile Justice Act came after the outrage that followed the verdict in the December 2012 bus gang-rape case in Delhi. 

  • One of the accused, who is a few months short of 18, was sent to an observation home for three years as per the provisions of the Act.

  • The Women and Child Development Ministry is of the view that 50 per cent all sexual crimes are committed by 16-year-olds. 

  • The Ministry also referred to data from the National Crime Records Bureau showing 67 per cent of juveniles charged with rape are over 16 years old.

  • The UNICEF said worldwide, such measures have not resulted in any lowering of crime rate. 

A close scrutiny of the available version of the Bill clearly indicates the possibility of life imprisonment as well as death penalty to children in the age group of 16 to 18. There is a strong apprehension that this provision will lead to victimization of children under plethora of laws presently operational.


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