April,23,2015: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act that would allow juveniles aged between 16 and 18 to be tried as adults for heinous crimes such as murder and rape.
The Bill will be presented before Parliament.
The proposed new law gives the Juvenile Justice Board the power to assess whether the perpetrator of a heinous crime aged between 16 and 18, had acted as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult.’
The board will be assisted in this process by psychologists and social experts.
“As per the Ministry of Women and Child Development, this unique instrument of a two-stage assessment/trial brings about a balance that is sensitive to the rights of the child, protective of his legitimate interests and yet conscious of the need to deter crimes, especially brutal crimes against women,” a release from the government said.
“Bill protects juvenile rights”
The government on Wednesday said the Bill incorporating amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act strikes a fine balance between protecting the rights of juveniles and the ‘popular demand’ of citizens.
The Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 came under intense scrutiny after the 2012 Delhi gang rape in which a juvenile was found to be guilty, along with four adults.
On April 6 this year, the Supreme Court had asked the government to re-visit the law so that a juvenile cannot get away with rape and murder by claiming he is too young to understand the consequences of his crime.
The court asked the government to take action, and convince legislators to change the law and make juveniles accountable.
“There can be a situation where a commission of an offence may be totally innocuous or emerging from a circumstance where a young boy is not aware of the consequences. But in cases of rape, dacoity, murder, which are heinous crimes, it is extremely difficult to conceive that the juvenile was not aware of the consequences,” a Supreme Court Bench had said.
On February 25, 2015 a parliamentary standing committee had rejected the proposal to try juveniles involved in heinous crimes as adults, saying the move was “in conflict with law.” However, the Women and Child Development Ministry had decided to go ahead with it.