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Adult laws will cover 16-18 year olds

Will applyto juveniles involved in heinous crimes

The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill that provides for trying juveniles aged between 16 and 18 years for heinous crimes under laws for adults, with the government insisting that it had tried to strike a “fine balance” to ensure that no injustice was done to the innocent.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill was passed after the government agreed to delete a controversial clause which said that if a minor commits a crime at an age between 16 and 18, but is caught when he has turned 21, should be tried under the Indian Penal Code and not juvenile laws. At least 42 official amendments were moved by the government to the bill, which were adopted, but all amendments moved by Opposition members like Shashi Tharoor (Congress) and N.K. Premchandran (RSP) were negated.

Opposition members opposed the proposal to raise the age bar, expressing apprehensions over misuse and violation of rights of children by the new law, which is being enacted against the backdrop of the involvement of a 16-year-old in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case.

However, Minister for Women and Child Develoment Maneka Gandhi said she had tried to be “pro-child” and had made efforts to strike a “fine balance” between justice to the victims and rights of the children.

Rejecting the allegation that she only loved animals, Gandhi said the new law was intended to be a “deterrent” to ensure that juveniles refrain from crimes and avoid spoiling their lives.

Justifying the need for the law, she said that according to the National Crime Records Bureau, around 28,000 juveniles had committed various crimes in 2013. Of them, 3,887 had allegedly committed heinous crimes. She cited a recent Supreme Court order wherein the court favoured a relook at the law in view of the growing number of juveniles involved in heinous crimes. — PTI



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