“A change in law cannot be based on one case”
“There is no move to lower the age bar for juveniles and all persons below 18 years would be treated as children,” said Union Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath on Tuesday, reacting to the growing demand for the age bar for juveniles to be reduced following the Delhi gang rape case where a juvenile was also apprehended for the heinous crime.
Speaking about the issue, the Minister said: “The Delhi gang rape case has raised a debate, but a change in law cannot be based on one case. Laws apply to all the children in the country and we cannot have a knee-jerk reaction on something so important.”
The Minister, who held several meetings with child rights experts recently, said: “We noted that those below 18 years are not given the right to vote. The minimum marriageable age for girls is 18, for boys it is even more at 21. So when we don't give children a lot of rights, we cannot burden them with the responsibilities/punishments of an adult.”
The Ministry has also been reviewing the Juvenile Justice Act which treats those below 18 as children. “The Delhi gang rape case, where the 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally raped and assaulted by six persons in a moving bus on December 16, 2012, has brought to the forefront the need for better rehabilitation of the rape victims and their families. It has also highlighted the acute shortage of counsellors in juvenile homes,” the Minister added.