It is quite surprising that even the Supreme Court is of the opinion that underage crime still forms only a tiny percentage of crimes in the nation (“Justice and the juvenile,” Sept. 6). Is it not necessary to nip the trend in the bud? A juvenile cannot get away after committing a crime that is very serious and has a lasting impact on the lives of others. Rehabilitation and counselling cannot bring back the dead.
Juvenile crimes are not restricted to assaults on women; the involvement of youngsters in acts of terror has been widely reported. Had Ajmal Kasab been under 18, he would have been awarded a lenient punishment which would have been gross injustice. Those perpetrating heinous crimes should be treated mercilessly. The Delhi gang rape shook the soul of India. It is time the loopholes in the law were plugged.
A fine balance needs to be struck between the points of view of the victim’s family and the juvenile. The gang rape and murder of the 23-year-old woman in Delhi was perpetrated in the most ghastly manner possible and it shocked the nation’s conscience. In such cases, an exception needs to be made even if the offender is a juvenile so that there is a deterrent effect and complete justice is done to the victim’s family. Justice should not only be done; it should also be seen to be done.
The rights of the victim and the juvenile accused are equally important. While the victim’s family is entitled to justice, the juvenile offender should get a chance to reform himself. But the right to justice is more important. The job of resolving the conflict between the right of the victim and the juvenile cannot be entrusted only to the judiciary; all stakeholders of society should have a say. A juvenile should be punished on the basis of the gravity of the crime committed by him.
Avadhoot Gorakhanath Shinde,
Doesn’t a heinous crime like the Delhi gang rape come under the “rarest of rare” category? Such crimes should be seen in the light of their gravity rather than the age of the person committing them. That is the least we can do to ensure that the family of the 23-year-old gets justice.
I am aghast on learning that someone who is one day short of 18 years of age can escape severe punishment after committing a heinous crime that would have attracted life imprisonment had he committed it a day later. A weak law will only make a criminal more confident. A few months in a reformatory can hardly reform a person. There is an immediate need to amend the JJ Act.
It is time to revisit the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. Serious offences like rape, treason, etc., need to be excluded from the scope of the Act. Detention of three years in a Special Home is grossly disproportionate to the gravity of an offence like rape.
Who does not make mistakes? Many people do something that is in conflict with the law as children. Only the degree of the crime varies.
It is, therefore, not right to treat offenders under 18 as adults. As the Supreme Court has pointed out, underage crime still forms only a tiny percentage of crimes. A child cannot commit a heinous crime without the support of adults. Therefore, it is the influence of society — especially the company of adult criminals — that makes juveniles commit crimes, heinous or otherwise. It is the state’s responsibility to reform the juvenile sentenced in the Delhi gang rape case.