I cannot agree that the light sentence of three years in a reform centre for an accused in the Delhi gang rape case — just because he was a few days short of 18 while committing the heinous crime— is justified. His age cannot be used to save him from punishment, especially because he was reportedly the most aggressive. The lack of stringent punishment in such cases will surely embolden juvenile criminals.
A rapist, even if he is under 18, knows well the nature and consequences of the heinous crime committed by him. By upholding his right, we are actually offering scope to criminals to grow. Let us not forget that children grow faster today thanks to their access to mobile phones, the Internet and television.
A person can be reformed only if he believes that he has done something gravely wrong. The juvenile accused in the Delhi gang rape case pleaded “not guilty.” Had he actually regretted his action, he would have pleaded guilty. There isn’t much hope of his turning a new leaf. A person who is a few months short of becoming an adult “legally” has enough understanding of the brutality of the crime he commits.
Rape has nothing to do with the juvenility of an offender. It is different from other offences committed out of immaturity. Rape should be treated as an exception. The law needs to be revisited, particularly with regard to the quantum of punishment.
Pradeep Kumar Mathur,
Many have expressed their dissatisfaction with the sentence awarded to the juvenile and have advocated the need to amend the Juvenile Justice Act. Since all crimes occur in the mind first, the mental age, not the biological age, should be of prime consideration while trying cases involving juvenile offenders.
Rather than treating 18 as a magical number, we should consider creating a juvenile range (15-20 years). The judge should have the discretion to award punishment on a case-by-case basis based on the seriousness of the crime; psychological assessment (whether the accused was aware of the consequences of his crime, his predisposition to crime, mental abnormality, etc.); and other specifics of the case (for e.g. conditions under which the crime occurred).