B.B. Pande asks whether we should disregard scientific evidence and reverse the long accepted juvenile justice policy just because the public is angry with juvenile criminals (Sept. 24). The answer is a resounding “yes.” Science is not gospel, it is fallible. Many scientific theories are proved incorrect as time goes on. Research on the human brain is not accurate and the findings would definitely have a large variation in data. A 16-year-old may not be mature but another may have matured at 14.
The other point is about percentages — that juvenile crime in India is low. Even if there is a single juvenile heinous crime in a year, the offender should be tried as an adult.
Why should our treatment of violent juvenile criminals be so simple? Adults can misuse children to commit crimes because they know juvenile offenders are released in just three years even in the worst cases.
K. Tirumala Prasad Redddy,
Studies have shown that many Indian children are abused sexually or in some other form. They are vulnerable and can take to crime. But they should not be punished till they are 17 years, 11 months, 30 days old. An unfortunate child, one day older, can be hanged.
The question is: how many children grow up to be criminals to avenge society? And how a planned heinous crime qualifies as a child’s revenge? The crime committed by the “juvenile” last year was not a revenge of a young man on a society that abused him. Laws are made on popular opinion. Public opinion has brought down anarchy, monarchy and created a land of equality. We cannot ignore it.
The arguments advanced in favour of juveniles are true for even young adults who are above the cut-off age. That does not mean young adults around 20 can also be dealt with softly. Harsh punishment, less than the death penalty, meted out to juveniles committing heinous crimes will surely act as a deterrent.
The article should serve as an eye-opener to those demanding rigorous punishment, including the death sentence, for juveniles involved in brutal crimes. The government should strengthen all institutions involved in the juvenile justice system and sensitise common people on the subject.
M.V. Durga Prasad,
The government cannot violate its international obligations. The JJ Act is not without flaws but demands for its amendment must be in conformity with legal provisions.
Keywords: Juvenile justice