The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development will press for “exemplary punishment” to the juvenile, who is among the six persons arrested for the December 16 gang rape in New Delhi.

Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said here on Monday: “We have sought the intervention of the government to make this an exceptional case and not treat this accused as a juvenile while awarding punishment. The nature of his crime, we feel, is so heinous that there is an urgent need to send a strong, correct and direct message.”

The Ministry had already held meetings with various activists and other stakeholders from the government, non-government and private sectors and “most agreed that in this case an example has to be set,” Ms. Tirath said. She would meet Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde “to present their recommendations.”

Juvenile Justice Act under review

“The Ministry is already reviewing the Juvenile Justice Act and we will take a re-look at the punishment accorded to juveniles in conflict with law considering the nature and seriousness of crimes they are involved in,” she said.

Asserting that juveniles in conflict with law should be looked at comprehensively and not in terms of a single incident, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson Shantha Sinha said: “Last year we had a minor girl who battered a two-year-old child, which is a heinous crime. Now there is this case [December 16 incident] where a juvenile is caught for a horrific, heinous crime. We would, however, not want to recommend anything at this stage and would like to proceed with caution. There is need to look into several such cases that have come to light recently and understand the protection mechanism available to juveniles in conflict with law. Only after this can we recommend something concrete to the government.’’

Meanwhile, several social activists and persons from civil society have joined in the demand for a more stringent punishment to the juvenile involved in the gang rape and murder of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student.

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