A person should be declared a minor or adult based on his mental growth and tendency to commit a crime, not age (“Balancing the juvenile act,” Sept. 9).
Ageing is a gradual process; one does not go to bed as a child and wake up as an adult. Psychological tests must be done on young offenders to determine their predisposition to crime.
The basic ideology of our penal system is reformation. While pronouncing judgments, courts take into account the gravity of crime, the circumstances and the living conditions of the accused. A juvenile is not called a criminal; he is called a “Juvenile in Conflict with Law” (JICWL).
Unlike adult criminals, a JICWL lacks maturity and his character is not developed. Trial by regular courts and exposure to hardened criminals will obstruct his rehabilitation. While appreciating the nature of the crime in the Nirbhaya case, which of course was grave and brutal, we should also understand that there is an urgent need to rehabilitate the juvenile offender.
The comparison between India and the West is incorrect. The emotional and social development of children in the West is far different from that of our children. If we reduce the age limit for juveniles to 16 following the Nirbhaya case, will we reduce it further if another crime occurs where the age of the accused is less than 16?
S. Naveen Kumar,
A 17-year-old and a 45-year-old cannot be treated equally for the same offence. A juvenile’s crime is not his mistake but that of society. Juvenile offenders are products of our society.