Pro-child Network, a coalition of NGOs, academic institutions and individuals working for children in India, and Gurgaon-based SGT University noted that “the Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014, continues to have many unconstitutional provisions.”
Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, the group said: “Children between 16-18 years of age are not similar to adults in their neuro-biological structure and processes, and hence treating them like adults will violate the Fundamental Right to Equality,” said Supreme Court advocate and women’s rights activist Vrinda Grover, who refuted the connection between safety of women and the JJ Bill.
“Based on my experience within and outside the courtroom, I can say with conviction that the amendments being pushed by the government to the JJ law, that seeks to prosecute and try 16-18 year old juveniles who commit rape or other sexual crimes before the adult criminal justice system and incarcerate them in prisons, will not in any way enhance the safety of women. As a women’s rights activist, I believe the government must invest in strengthening reformative and rehabilitative mechanisms under the JJ law,” she said.
Activists also noted that attachment of disqualifications making the child ineligible for fresh start, leaving him stigmatised for life, deprived of avenues of employment and reintegration even when the children’s court gives a finding that the child has reformed at the age of 21 years, violates the rights of the juvenile.
Hyderbad-based Nalsar University of Law Vice-Chancellor Faizan Mustafa, who is well-versed with the ill-effects of prisons, said: “Putting children with adult criminals is self-destructive and self-defeating. Adolescents in conflict with the law need adult guidance and not the company of hardened criminals.”