That the sixth accused in the Delhi gang rape case has been declared a juvenile has come as bad news for many who were expecting a harsher punishment for him. There are demands that the law be changed (the age of juvenile be brought down). The Constitution does not provide for retrospective changes in the criminal justice system. The law can be changed and gruesome acts can be excluded from the Juvenile Justice Act, as has been done in many countries. But the changes cannot have effect retrospectively.

Deepak Solanki, New Delhi

Contrary to the nation’s expectations, the sixth accused in the Delhi gang rape case will be treated as a juvenile. A few legal luminaries and bleeding hearts have even argued that laws cannot be changed retrospectively and that children should be treated like children irrespective of the barbarity of their crimes. Outmoded laws need to be revisited if the government does not want society to turn into a lynch mob.

Gunjan Sinha, Pune

The Juvenile Justice Board should look at the issue from the angle of his brutal, inhuman and savage mentality. It should also appreciate the public’s emotions on this issue. When a snake or a deadly animal attacks us, we do not look its age or growth but react to protect ourselves. Taking a lenient view of the accused will create strong resentment among people.

D.V. Raghavan, Bangalore

The image of the poor young woman who suffered so much at the hands of the “juvenile” keeps flashing in my mind. That a metal rod was inserted in her and her intestine pulled out for pleasure by the 17-year-old “minor” is more than just shocking. All these days, I was under the impression that only the rich and influential get away with crimes in India. I have been proved wrong.

I live in constant fear of something. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t even think straight. When I see an unsupervised teenager looking at a woman, for instance, I feel like pounding him. I feel a chill in my spine when my cousin does not pick up her phone or my girlfriend takes too long to reply to my texts. I am angry with the government. I have trouble following the basic rules. Why should I listen to a government that cannot protect my family?

Rudraraju Ashok Gajapathiraju, Hyderabad

A juvenile can be sent to a reformatory when he commits a crime like theft. Even a minor who commits a murder may reform. But a 17-year-old who has committed rape and murder is unlikely to reform. A juvenile should be treated like an adult in rape cases.

A. Balakrishnan, Chennai

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