Parliament okays juvenile Bill

16 and above will now be tried as adults for heinous crimes

New Delhi: Those aged 16 and above will now be tried as adults for heinous crimes like rape as Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill, days after the juvenile convict in the ghastly 2012 gangrape-cum-murder case walked free for lack of such a legal provision.
Watched from the galleries by the distraught parents of Nirbhaya, the victim in the the December, 2012 incident, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, which provides for lowering the age from 18 years, was passed by Rajya Sabha by a voice vote with Congress support after a walkout by Left parties.
The Left parties as well some others including NCP and the DMK voiced caution over the measure, which had already been passed by Lok Sabha.
The Left parties wanted it to be sent to a Select Committee so that there is no haste in amending the law under emotional pressure.
The lowering of the age means that those aged 16 and above will no longer enjoy the protection under the Juvenile Justice law, under which juveniles cannot be tried under normal laws of land that provides up to death for rape and murder.
Under the juvenile law till now, even those accused of heinous offences like rape could be tried only by Juvenile Justice Boards and cannot be jailed for more than three years.
Replying to the debate on the bill, Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi said the legislation was a “nuanced” one and was much needed to act as a “deterrent”.
She said the incidents of heinous crimes by juveniles of the age of 16 years and above were on the rise and cited statistics to support her contention.
Allaying members’ concerns over implications of the bill, Gandhi said it was “not against children but rather provides for, protects, nurtures and keeps them safe.”
The consideration of the bill was taken up under mounting pressure for toughening the law against the backdrop of the uproar over release of the juvenile convict in the Delhi gangrape case.
The parents of Nirbhaya, who became the face of the campaign for changing the law, welcomed )  the passage of the bill saying it would deter juveniles from committing such ghastly crimes.
However, the mother of the victim rued that there was a lingering feeling of denial justice in the case of her daughter. A number of civil rights activists and NGOs felt that the law was being amended under emotional pressure over the release of the juvenile convict in the Nirbhaya case. (PTI)

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