Opinion » Lead

Updated: September 9, 2013 02:24 IST

Balancing the juvenile act

Aparna Viswanathan
Comment (52)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The Hindu

Young offenders above a certain age who commit violent crimes should be prosecuted as adults

On August 31, 2013, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) ordered that the boy who raped Nirbhaya, brutalised her with an iron rod, pulled out her intestines and then cleaned up the bus and made tea would go virtually free by sentencing him to only 28 months in a remand home as eight months of the total 36 months’ sentence had already been served. This order is subject to review by the JJB based on the behaviour of the juvenile and the police are required to expunge this crime from his record in order to ensure complete rehabilitation. Despite the unprecedented street protests following the Nirbhaya rape, there has been little substantive debate on the adequacy of the Juvenile Justice Act to deal with such heinous crimes.

Underlying principle

The JJ Act was passed in 2000 with the purpose of incorporating into domestic law India’s obligations under international law as a signatory of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for Administration of Juvenile Justice (1985) (known as the “Beijing Rules”) and the U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990). Underlying these international texts is the legal philosophy that juveniles lack the physical and mental maturity to take responsibility for their crimes, and because their character is not fully developed, they still have the possibility of being rehabilitated. This basic principle underlies the juvenile justice systems in many countries, including the United States and the U.K.

The JJA creates a juvenile justice system in which persons up to the age of 18 who commit an offence punishable under any law are not subject to imprisonment in the adult justice system but instead will be subject to advice/admonition, counselling, community service, payment of a fine or, at the most, be sent to a remand home for three years.

However, the interest in protection of juveniles has to be balanced with the interest of protecting particularly vulnerable members of society from violent crimes committed by persons under 18 years of age and amending the law when societal conditions radically change over time. As per the reports of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) entitled “Crime in India 2011” and “Crime in India 2012,” the percentage of crimes committed by juveniles as compared to total crimes has not significantly increased from 2001-2012. According to the NCRB statistics, India is not in the throes of a general crime wave by juveniles. However, the NCRB statistics relating to violent crimes by juveniles against women are very troubling. “Crime in India 2011” suggests the number of rapes committed by juveniles has more than doubled over the past decade from 399 rapes in 2001 to 858 rapes in 2010. “Crime in India 2012” records that the total number of rapes committed by juveniles more than doubled from 485 in 2002 to 1149 in 2011.

As the data suggests, between 2011 and 2012 alone, there was a massive increase in instances of rape by juveniles by nearly 300, which is almost as much as the increase in such cases over the entire previous decade. This increase alone makes amendment of the JJA imperative.

‘Get tough’ approach

Several other countries such as the U.S. and the U.K., which are both signatories to the U.N. Convention, have also faced an increase in violent crimes by juveniles but, unlike India, they have taken action to amend their laws. Most States in the U.S. have enacted a juvenile code of which the main objective is rehabilitation and not punishment. Juveniles appear in juvenile court and not in adult court. Juvenile courts do not have the power to impose punishment and can impose only rehabilitative measures or assistance by government programmes. However, since the increase in violent crimes committed by juveniles in the 1990s, U.S. States have adopted a “get tough” approach in response.

In most U.S. States, the jurisdiction of juvenile courts is automatically waived when a juvenile above a certain age, usually 13 or 15, commits a violent or other serious crime, and the case is automatically transferred to adult court. A certification hearing takes place and an adult court prosecutor is required to convince the adult court that the case should be transferred. The juvenile is entitled to an attorney at the hearing and to present any evidence which mitigates against the transfer. For example, in Indiana, South Dakota and Vermont, children as young as 10 can be tried as adults. California’s Proposition 21 which was passed in 2000 allows prosecutors to automatically try juveniles who commit felonies as adults. Under Michigan’s Juvenile Waiver Law passed in 1997, juveniles can automatically be tried as adults.

Youth Court

Similarly, in the U.K., persons under 18 are tried by a “Youth Court” which is a special type of magistrate’s court for those aged 10-18 years. The Youth Court can issue community sentences, behavioural programmes, reparation orders, youth detention and rehabilitation programmes which last three years. However, for serious crimes like murder or rape, the case starts in Youth Court but is transferred to a Crown Court which is the same as a Sessions Court. The Crown Court can sentence the child for offences of murder committed when the offender was a youth as well as for “grave crimes” including sexual assault and sentence the child to “indeterminate detention for public protection.”

The Crown Court can also give “extended sentence” to a minor. If a youth is jointly charged with an adult, the charge is heard and tried by a regular court. If the youth is found guilty, the Crown Court can impose a sentence which does not exceed the maximum sentence applicable to an offender who is 21 years or older. Therefore, in both the U.S. and the U.K., juveniles who commit violent crimes such as rape are prosecuted in the same manner as adults.

Even the U.N. Convention and the Beijing Rules do not prohibit subjecting children/juveniles to the regular criminal justice system under certain circumstances. Article 40 of the U.N. Convention provides that a child who has been accused of having violated the penal law shall have the following guarantees: to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law, to be informed promptly of the charges against him and to have legal or other appropriate assistance in the preparation of his defence, to have the matter determined without delay by a competent and impartial authority or judicial body, not to be compelled to confess guilty, and to examine witnesses. Moreover, the state can establish a minimum age below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law. Therefore, in accordance with the U.N. Convention, the JJ Act could have established an age limit, such as 14 or 16, below which a person could not be deemed to have the capacity to commit an offence. In short, the U.N. Convention does not prohibit prosecuting a child under 18 who has committed an offence under the regular penal laws.

Beijing Rules

Rule 17 of the Beijing Rules, in turn, provides that the reaction shall be in proportion to the circumstances and the gravity of the offence as well as the circumstances and needs of the juvenile as well as the needs of society. Furthermore, personal liberty may be deprived if the juvenile is adjudicated guilty of a serious offence involving violence against another person or persistence in committing other serious offences. Unlike the U.N. Convention, the Beijing Rules do not fix 18 as the age of a juvenile. Instead, the Beijing Rules provide for rules applicable to persons between the age of 7 and 18. Therefore, India’s international legal obligations do not prohibit it from amending the JJ Act to provide that persons between the age of 16-18 who are accused of rape, kidnapping and abduction of women and girls will be exempted from the jurisdiction of the JJB and tried in the adult criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, the current system serves neither the purpose of rehabilitation nor deterrence against future crime. As reported by India Today, there are 815 remand homes in India with a capacity of 35,000. However, there are 1.7 million juvenile accused in India. Remand homes in India are not conducive to the reform and rehabilitation of juveniles as envisioned by the principles enshrined in international law. While rehabilitation is certainly an important legal and societal objective, this interest surely has to be balanced with creating a legal deterrent to protect women and girls from the increasing incidence of rapes by juveniles. Particularly in view of the significant increase in rapes committed by juveniles since the JJ Act was passed, India should consider amendment of the Act to transfer certain violent crimes such as murder and rape committed by juveniles above a particular age to the adult criminal system.

(Aparna Viswanathan is a lawyer)

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Any individual being so insensitive towards another human being of opposite gender to sexually assault and hurt her physically so brutally shall not at all can be considered either a juvenile or requires any rehabilitation, as his act are far above an act of mature and physically strong person.

from:  Amal Sharma
Posted on: Sep 13, 2013 at 12:01 IST

The gravity of the crime and the conciuosness while doingbit is most important than age. The time has changed and there has to be changes in law!

from:  Bibin Alexander
Posted on: Sep 12, 2013 at 11:12 IST

It is to be further verified whether U.S and Somalia are party to U.N.
Convention as stated by Aparna Viswanathan.
my points are:
1)Why not think about giving double the punishment for the major(above
18 yr)co-accused in any crime wherein an under 18yr(child)also is
The subliminal learning and imitating/following the adults to be given
due share in any scenario.JJ Act and IPC do not incorporate this.
Child is mentored by parents and teachers at home and school
respectively.Their role in conflict with law/deviant behaviour to be
researched and suitably incorporated not only in JJ Act and IPC, but
in school curricula also.
It is easy to target the idol,but effortful to set right the process
through which an optimum goodness be given and a nearly fool-proof
idol be created.

from:  Ramakrishnan.K
Posted on: Sep 11, 2013 at 22:39 IST

thanks for valuable information.
Our laws are made worthless by rigid interpretation or poor implementation. As the author has suggested, the UN convention has enough provision to provide for the flexibility related to social conditions in a particular country and also to make provisions specific to cases of different intensity. There is no need to debate upon age of juvenile being 16 or 18 specially in a country where most of the people do not have an authentic record or date of birth or their parents deliberately file lesser age.
We should make laws more flexible to provide for heinous crimes done by juveniles. Just few more months later same guy would have got a very different punishment. So no point in debating on age but to remove such rigidity from the law.
And of course no point of all this if reform houses are not run properly. We must have larger funds to run these homes and allow juveniles to have good education their so that they can be a contributing member of society.

from:  pradeep
Posted on: Sep 11, 2013 at 02:09 IST

The mental maturity of the juvenile is to be judged on the fact if he was fully aware and conscious
during the execution of the crime. If not then an adult of the age of 30 who has committed a crime
unintentionally should be tried at the juvenile court for the reason that he was not mentally alert. I
would vow that age is no reason to exempt somebody who has brutally raped and been the reason
for the death of a future Indian when he was completely aware and conscious of what he was
doing. A hard step now can be a warning to the many young minds who grow up today and design
their perspectives for tomorrow considering the happenings of today. Lets spread a strong message
resonating that what he did was actually wrong and wave a warning to the many who may slip the grip of the law for the same ridiculous and stupid reason..

from:  Tharun Jose
Posted on: Sep 11, 2013 at 01:44 IST

If a person rapes, then irrespective of the age he must be considered for exemplary punishment, period.

from:  s m kumar
Posted on: Sep 11, 2013 at 00:22 IST

A person who is able to commit murder and rape,is definitely not a kid, whatever documents tell about his age,and should be tried according to the crime.
When the question of "not mature enough" before age of 18 comes - there are two important things to be noticed. Maturity comes according to circumstances and life-condition,for example- someone who is working for a living since age of 10 definitely will become mature much before getting 18 yrs. old. Be it maturity to commit crimes or maturity in any other dimension. Another issue is with determining age, there is no proepr process on what documents should be used to determine the age. Most common documents used are school certificates, It is a very common practice in rural India(at least) to register the child 2-3 yrs. younger than he actually is. Even people pass class 10-12th again with changed name and DOB. Above two things are done to make sure that the person can keep trying for jobs for a long time.

from:  Sauveer
Posted on: Sep 10, 2013 at 18:00 IST

Thank you very much for providing a very informative article by Aparna Vishwanathan on the subject of Juvenile Delinquency. After going through the article I am unable to understand as to why our polity is so indifferent in taking stringent preventive actions by amending the JJ Act. The so called Juvenile in Nirbhaya case was just a few days short of 18 years. It is established that he was the most violent and was responsible for Nirbhaya's death. Even knowing all this we all seem to helpless and showing finger to the JJ act. I feel had Nirbhaya been a daughter of a Minister or a big politician, the JJ act would have been amended within 24 hours. It is once again established that the Indian Politicians are totally indifferent towards the people of India.

from:  S. N. Vichare
Posted on: Sep 10, 2013 at 12:21 IST

I fail to understand why a juvenile is not subjected to medical tests to confirm their age, then
let rest follow from there. Staking everything on a sheet of paper - birth certificate - which can
be manipulated as and when required, is not sensible enough.

from:  Sunil Tomar
Posted on: Sep 10, 2013 at 10:51 IST

i feel very good to know that you are so conscious about the law and our juvenile of India.the first thing itches me is that the boy who performs a heinous act of slaughter of thoughts of a common man regarding to juvenile by getting out the intestines of a girl how can you assume him to be a juvenile.even only a .01% of people can only dare to think about that and government is starving to rehabilitate that one.and the second thing,that is most conspicuous,is you are begging for the amendment in law by those policymakers who are already culprits , who pass a bill according to their good fortune(to get a election ticket from jail).that was another time when our constitutional writers and thinkers were fully dedicated to see a well developed India but today these policy makers want to see their Swiss bank account fully deluged with Indian currency.

Posted on: Sep 10, 2013 at 08:11 IST

It is easy to move the threshold age for the crimes which are committed.The author might have shown some lights on the arts of value education imparted elsewhere in regards to UN conventions, the circumstances study of juvenile crimes if any by crime bureaus,to prevent juveniles who get involved in such heinous crimes as they are accompanied by adults in most of crimes,so as the law tries the same.

from:  Saravanan
Posted on: Sep 10, 2013 at 01:41 IST

While it is important that Indian laws conform to international standards, domestic characteristics should be taken into account in formulating laws and changes to existing laws. India has large groups of children who are subject to violence, are used by criminals, and attend no schools, receive no parental or societal discipline. With the government’s welfare programs, there is really no need for these children to gain employable skills. The political parties and dishonest businesses have ready vacancies for them as hired guns. Under such a scenario, it is important for Indian social services and police to try to catch and reform the children while they are involved in very petty crimes. Once they repeat the minor misdeeds, it is time to straighten them before they try the big and heinous acts.

from:  Som Karamchetty
Posted on: Sep 10, 2013 at 00:36 IST

The nature of the punishment given must not depend on criteria as
age,maturity.Amendment in JJ act is the need of hour.Some Formal
education can also become a deterrent. Rehab must be given in cases
where there is some possibility that such incident would not be
repeated. cases of RAPE,Murder must exempted and tried in adult

from:  gaurav
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 23:24 IST

I appreciate the way Aparna made her point clear. We need a fresh look into Juvenile Justice system in our country.The person, whether below 18 years or not should be punished on the nature of the crime rather than his/her age.If one commits an act that is supposed to be done by a grown up, then how the law can let him go freely considering him as under aged?

from:  R. Niyati
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 22:42 IST

If person committed rape or any offence with girl and women., he will be considered as a criminal not juvenile because that crimes related with society

from:  Vignesh.k
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 22:32 IST

Government needs to rethink the juvenile age as 18 because these days
children are becoming mature much earlier(i.e by the age of 14-16) than
the juvenile criteria.So the punishment should also be severe.All that
is needed now is just 1 severe,strict and rigid punishment to these
heinous crime perpetrators irrespective of the age of the culprit
whether he is a 16 year old or 60.

from:  Akash Srivastva
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 22:24 IST

Culprits are actually aware of the intensity of an offence on rape,
but show guts to take risk as they are aware of host of ample
loopholes to escape from the prosecution with the connivance of the
corrupt local police or politicians.

It is very regrettable that India could not get pace with the world in
amending the JJ Act while the whole world from U.S to China had
rightly amended when crimes committed by Juvenile delinquents have
registered an increasing trend. Aparna Viswanathan had correctly
concluded that India’s international legal obligations do not prohibit
it from amending the JJ Act. It is high time that all persons from age
16 – 18 be tried in the adult criminal justice system for their
involvement in heinous crimes of rape, kidnapping etc. They should not
get any protection of law as Juveniles. The changed rules should be
made applicable to all cases pending in any court of law.

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 21:59 IST

It is really a disgrace to the Juvenile Justice Board to convict the
criminal a peanut punishment of three years despite he was convicted
already for committing a robbery on the carpenter from the same bus
prior to the rape of the victim on the fateful night. Further he is
getting credit of eight months already spent in the jail during these
days; thus he is going to be in the custody at the juvenile home only
for two years and four months. If our justice system is like this,
what way it will act as a deterrent to sexual assaults happening in
our country?

There are many fresh incidences of savage rapes from various states
one after another right from the day the unprecedented crowd crusading
against atrocities and rapes were going on at New Delhi after the DEC-
16 incident. There is no guarantee that rapes will not happen as long
as we have men with perverted thoughts who get sexually aroused and
will see a prey in any female seen in any vulnerable situations.

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 21:55 IST

The definition of a Juvenile delinquent must bring down the age limit
to 16 while drafting fresh laws to overhaul the obsolete provisions of
all laws that are ostensibly to safe guard women’s safety. Further if
the spiteful masculine act of rape or a brutal attack on women are
committed by boys even below the age of 16, let them be only 13 or 14,
if the physical power and the ‘oversexed’ state of mind is no way
inferior to that a matured adult culprit.

Ironically the judgement in respect of the punishment to the minor who
was the main culprit in the Nirbaya case is not considered as a major!
The delinquent who is just short of few months to reach the attained
age- 18, could get the advantage of the same despite becoming the
prime accused and was responsible for causing heinous attack of the
victim with an iron rod.

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 21:51 IST

It is a ground reality that the basic mindset of Juveniles varies from
society to society. Juveniles in slums wherein savage culture prevails
are prone to encounter sex or violence even at age -14. They are wooed
not only into petty crimes but for organized burglary, abductions or
the so called ‘Quotations’ (Contract Killings). Similarly Juveniles in
highly elite societies with less parental care too fall prey to
alcoholism, pornography, fanatical sexual interests etc. which prompt
them to indulge in rape or molestation. It is not only unfortunate but
also deplorable that the Verma Committee had ignored to take note of
these ground realities prior to proclaim for showing sympathy to all
Juveniles under age-18.

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 21:50 IST

India should extend the punishment of extreme offences committed by juveniles to decrease the number of women harassment and death cases.

from:  Kajol
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 21:11 IST

A well analyzed article bringing to the urgent focus on the issue of juvenile crime that is on
the increase and the quantum of punishment to deter such crimes. In this context, the very
definition of 'juvenile' needs to be revisited; age in number is no more relevant to define a
juvenile. When a 'juvenile' as per the current understanding is exposed to crime from
his/her very early age, he/she will be conditioned to commit crimes as it becomes his/her
second habit. With such a mind set he is a danger to the society irrespective of his/her age
in number. The 'juvenile' should therefore be redefined to include in its ambit the mindset of
the person. Such an assessment may be made by experts in the field. Kids with criminal bent
of mind depending on the magnitude and seriousness of the crime committed should be
dealt with as per adult laws; otherwise, such crimes would continue to swell.

from:  M.R.Sampath
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 21:05 IST

What is this all rules? He has done something unimaginable and people
keeping on debating about it.

Justice is done to stop crime but this kind of sanctions will only
increase crime.

Think from a basic human point.. Thank god that girl died. Else she
would have to see and bare all these torments!!!

from:  Afsal Khan
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 20:55 IST

Crimes by 15 - 18 year old boys should be viewed more seriously. Many Tyson like teenagers are brutal. Apologetic meek punishment will increase their criminality which is already a threat to smaller children women and even to adult men

from:  J Krishnan
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 19:57 IST

What ever is the decision the Legal system makes, it is extremely
important that CRIME is a CRIME it does not matter who commits. The
PUNISHMENT should merit the CRIME and it should be TOTAL DETERRENT for
others even to think of it. If any one try to reform the CRIMINAL
should also realise that it is a long complicated laborious process
which can take precedent later with a public debate from different
states as the situation may vary.
The purpose is to make the CRIMINAL understand that CRIME WILL NEVER

from:  sini
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 19:39 IST

This is a sensitive issue. Fine, crime is done and criminals must be punished, but we also should not forget, juvenile minds can easily be converted to hard core criminals. So, we must take a concious and sensisitive approach.

1. The day to day justice should be done fast and must be seen by us - which will discourage budding criminal minds.

2. Govt must propose a rule which controls migration for job - Living with family and familiar places definately control crime rates. Specially sexual crimes.

3. Media should not present women as an object of desire. The kinds of movies/serials we see now a days, I doubt many people develop a sisterly love towards women. Supressed desire at one place - finds way at another.

4. We also should maintain a healthy environment at our own house, where love and respect towards women is seen from the childhood. Education plays a significant role here - be it at schools/ colleges or at home.

from:  Avinash Baranwal
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 19:34 IST

Finally, we have a lawyer making a clear case for trying heinous crimes by juveniles in the adult domain. Good article by Aparna Viswanathan. I posted this point earlier too that Western nations have amended their rules likewise and so should India.
Glad to see a sensible and much-needed view point in The Hindu. We hope Dr Subramanian Swamy's petition which has been accepted in SC wins in this regard. There is a high degree of mental psychopathy among people in India which never gets reported because Indian mothers and families adore and protect their sons no matter how evil. They then end up committing gruesome crimes like the Dec 16 horrendous rape & murder. Adult penalties are required here. Hope to see more of Aparna's articles.

from:  Neeta S
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 18:56 IST

I wish to know what for the officials in the law ministry are waiting
to press for an appropriate amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act. As
you have pointed out statistics clearly indicate that there are rising
of number of crimes by those who are under 18 years of age. Thus,
there is a clear case for an very urgent review of the JJ Act and
passing the amendment to provide for punishment to those whom commit
crimes against helpless women and others by the so-called teenagers.
No criminal should be allowed to walk free after a few years in
remand homes by claiming that he was under 18 years of age.

from:  Narendra M Apte
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 18:53 IST

We need balance approach regarding juvenile indulge in heinous crime like murder and rape and in case of conflict with law . As rate of crime is increasing which is done by juveniles so it is time to revisit the act which should be as per demanding situation of society but same time its responsibility of state as well as society that we should provide enough facility and opportunity so that children get socialize with approved value and norms of society . In such case , it is more duty of society rather than act or law to achieve normal and civilized society.

from:  Dilip
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 18:48 IST

Instead of theological argument about a 'non-adult' conducting an 'adult' crime, the writer could well have given a case where a juvenile was given the 'maximum punishment' in US and UK. I think - a simple illustration could open-shut the case of maximum sentence for juveniles in India. The fact that the author hasnt given such an example, only shows that courts in US or UK are not 'trigger happy' in delivering such verdicts.

from:  Raghuraman R
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 17:55 IST

Really disapponted by the System.Person who commit such heinous crime should not be allowed to walk freely. This would definitely give boost to others to commit such severe type of crimes.There need a amendment in the JJ Act.

from:  Abhishek Gupta
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 17:53 IST

The writer fail to realise the socio demographic unique challenges of indian juveniles and the system surround it and former proposal wouldnt solve the latter problem

from:  Dinesh
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 17:27 IST

The problem is that sex business is not fully legalised in india. When a juvenile or even an adult wants to have sex then where should he go?

from:  sasank
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 17:21 IST

There was a recent shootout case in USA wherein a 22 year old
Australian student was shot dead by 3 teenagers who were dead-bored
and decided to kill someone to have fun and shot that student dead.The
judge who handled the case gave a verdict that these teenagers should
undergo maximum punishment an adult serves given the intensity of the
crime. In India, we have a teenager who has gone beyond all this and
destroyed a woman's modesty by raping her,physically assaulted her
till her death. He will now go scot free in 2 years and continue to
rape many more.... really appalled to hear this verdict.

from:  Ramya
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 17:20 IST

At some extant you are right. Juvenile crime is increasing because crime rate among adults is increasing, I think this is percolating from community behavior! Contemporary society is fully responsible for this situation. For example our electronic media, films most of time showing immoral stories which impact lots on innocent mind. So here juvenile itself victim of this society!

from:  Amrat Chaudhari
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 17:15 IST

This is commendable for our society and appreciated step for Indian law & Justice..

from:  Rajesh Prasad, Jnu.
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 17:05 IST

The information provided clearly outlines a very serious loophole of our law. If US, UK and UN all have so sensibly done it, why are we so senseless about it?
What are we doing with a law which is openly giving positive signals to all "adult" law made juveniles to do negative, as they will only be socalled rehabilitated.
This is horrible.

from:  Shivam
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 17:01 IST

Its a little hard to raise the quantum of punishment for child
offenders as suggested by you, without compromising the principles of
the juvenile justice system. The fact that they are "kids" and are
hence not physically and mentally mature to take responsibility for
their actions should have significant bearing while deciding any
quantum of punishment for them.
While the rise in figures on child offenders is alarming, I think you
fail to judge the true reasons behind this increase. the reasons can
be two pronged, a) That there just isn't enough deterrence in society
against heinous crimes such as rape b) Lack of formal education, which
inherently reinforces false notions of male superiority.
Further more, introducing children into the adult justice system
creates huge problems of promoting recidivist attitudes, as you
concede their minds are not well developed.
We also need judge weather the remand homes in status quo really serve
their purpose, and what can be done to improve them.

from:  Angad Singh
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 16:57 IST

No doubt, there should not be any difference in awarding punishment to
the juveniles and the accused should never get escaped under the
pretext of 'junvenile' for, the crimes like rape. Besides discussing
threadbare and looking at from the angle of revamping the Juvenile
Act, another moot point escapes everybody's attention is the swelling
number of 1.7 million of juveniles presently under custody all over
India. We have failed to do the required reformations in this
direction. Suitable enactments should be made to amend the provisions
of Juvenile Act to put the volume of juveniles into productive use.
Region-wise Juvenile homes should be turned into Reform homes. With
the physical work which could be derived from the juveniles, thousands
of acres of barren lands can be converted into cultivable one. They
should be deployed into labour intensive areas like making rural
roads, bridges, flyovers and in making compost yards, in a controlled

Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 16:25 IST

Appreciable. Definetly we need a more stringent system to deal with
cases like the one of last year december. The horrific crime brought
to the fore the status of the Juvenile justice and the lacunae present
in the criminal justice system. Why is it so that with change of time
we never look and contemplate to change the rules and acts to deal
with new and emergent situations. Like in this case with the change in
the composition of the society there is a change in the attitude of
the juveniles which we need to consider. There should be periodic
review of every law in the backdrop of such changes in the society.

from:  Shashank Kumar Pandey
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 15:17 IST

Funny, ironical and sad are the three words for all of this. Fundamental issue? No statistical way is there to determine one to be juvenile and yet these youth courts and UN conventions are so adament to frame all of it in that manner! How and why there is a wave of juvenile crimes only in rapes and nowhere else, according ncrb data! We are unable to either understand sexual urges or we are just thinking fear of law could keep juveniles too from crimes..why are you calling them juveniles at all then! And 1.7 mln is what makes it even sad..

from:  Abhineet
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 15:08 IST

Our System Should Be Made More Flexible .So That Every Time we dont force govt to change the laws ....

from:  Nikhil Pundir
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 14:46 IST

It is conceded remand homes do not deliver the intended objective of
the juvenile criminal. In the present state of things this is not
likely to change in the foresseable future. The urgent need is to
replace the basis of determining status of a juvenile just on age to
a more pragmatic factor of maturity at least for heinous crimws like
rape and murder. After all a 13 year old has graduated recently and
admitted to postgraduate courses upto PhD. Physical psycologcal and
environment factors should play a significant part before declaring
a teenager as a juvenile.

from:  S. Rajagopalan
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 14:43 IST

I completely agree that the quantum of punishment should be in view of
the crime. A person who commits a henious crime should not be allowed to
walk scot free just because the black and white interpretation of law
says so. Really disappointed at the development.

from:  Subhash
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 14:42 IST

I appreciate the stand taken by the writer.Among juveniles, its juvenile falling in age
group 16 to years which are being reported to commit crime of larger gravity such as
rape and murder.hence it is recommended that juveniles falling in this age group , if
resort to henious crime, should be treated as adults.That would act as deterence as
well as protect the vulnerable section of population from such abuses.

from:  Shivraj Gurjar
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 14:35 IST

this article reflects the need of the hour in India. we better wake up
to the changing realities

from:  ravi sharma
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 14:28 IST

I appreciate the manner in which the survey has done. Considering juvenile as adult in case of heinous crime is certainly a welcome Step. Indeed looking at the crime reports under the age of 18 years , even after the act is made signals that amendment is a must .

from:  Ramu
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 14:07 IST

A very good article. I fully agree with Opinion of Aparna Viswanathan. A
person, may be less than 18 years, who violates a woman with such
brutality, should be punished at par with adult. What will government do
with a terrorist who has killed many but is juvenile, will he be tried
as per JJ act? If yes, perhaps the day may not be far when terror
sponsor get the terror acts done by juvenile. It is time to get tough
and punish the criminal as applicable with crime committed.

from:  M K Keswani
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 14:04 IST

The case has put forward some critical social and legal issues, and the existing trade-offs. While severe punishment can help heal the wounds in our heart, too much focus on law amendments and satisfaction under "tougher punishment" would lead to society escaping self-introspection. Every decision, especially institutional, should show a clear purpose towards solution. The solution lies more with society than courts, I feel.

Having said that, an extension of rehabilitation period and continuous monitoring looks to be the options, which could be part of the solution. Trying and putting such persons with adults make no sense. For society, its important that each and every one has something at stake in life. Opposition of welfare programs of governments are not doing any good towards this purpose.

from:  Shaurya
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 13:21 IST

People are asking to establish an age limit of 16 because the boy is 17.This is not a solution for reducing the number of rape cases.The need of the hour is to impart moral education to children.

from:  debayan
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 13:11 IST

This article has been nicely written and presented. I really appreciate The Hindu . I am in favour that there is an urgent need to amend juvenile justices act and delevop standard child development centre so that after three year it can be ensured that the conduct of child is as per need of society. survey of various organisation reveals that the crime committed by juvenile has increased by alarming rate. Now Children are more physically and mentally mature before 18years of age as compared to children a decade ago.Currently juveniles are committing henious crime which we cannot expect from them. In US and UK Depending upon gravity of crime the cases related to juvenile can be transferred from juveniles court to adult court and can be treated as par with adult. Similar to that there is need of amendment in juvenile justice act so as to fit in current situation.

from:  Anuj Kumar
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 12:41 IST

Appreciate your views & agree that amendments in this law are needed immediately. But what about the culprit who will be free by the time such amendment comes. Need severe punishment for him.

from:  Dheeraj Varma
Posted on: Sep 9, 2013 at 12:26 IST
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