Assault by juveniles on woman to outrage her modesty saw a 132 per cent increase and rapes committed by juveniles witnessed an increase of 60.3 per cent last year.
The report of the National Crime Records Bureau said the highest increase in the incidents of crimes committed by juveniles in 2013 was reported under assault on woman to outrage her modesty – 132.3 per cent – followed by insult to the modesty of women – 70.5 per cent and rape – 60.3 per cent.
Among the total juveniles apprehended under IPC, 66.3 per cent belonged to the age group of 16-18 years.
A total of 31,725 criminal cases involving juveniles were reported last year in comparison to 27,936 cases reported in 2012 — an increase of 13.6 per cent.
Last year, the highest number of juveniles were apprehended for thefts (7,969) followed by hurt (6,043) and burglaries (3,784). These heads taken together accounted for 40.9 per cent of total juveniles apprehended under IPC crimes.
Out of the total juveniles (43,506) involved in various crimes, 8,392 were illiterate and 13,984 had education up to primary level.
These two categories together accounted for 51.9 per cent of the total juveniles arrested during the year 2013. A large number of juveniles (50.2 per cent) belonged to the poor families whose annual income was up to Rs 25,000.
Children living with parents (35,244 persons) have accounted for 81.0 per cent of the total juveniles apprehended for committing various crimes during 2013.
Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had favoured treating juveniles accused of heinous crimes like rape on par with adult offenders.
She said 50 per cent of all sexual crimes were committed by “16-year-olds who know the Juvenile Justice Act so they can do it”.
“But now for premeditated murder, rape, if we bring them into the purview of the adult world, then it will scare them,” she had said.
Former WCD Minister Krishna Tirath during the previous UPA regime had proposed that juveniles above 16 years guilty of heinous crimes be treated on par with adult offenders.
The move was however opposed by various NGOs and National Commission of Protection of Child Rights which stated that such a proposal was against child rights.
However, on August 12, a comprehensive bill to tackle increasing crimes committed by youngsters between 16-18 years of age was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 proposes to repeal the law enacted in 2000 and provides for care and protection of children, their rehabilitation and offences committed against children, among other things.
The changes in the law come against the backdrop of outrage over the lighter punishment of three years in a reform home given to a minor convicted in the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape case.
Increasing cases of crimes committed by children aged 16-18 years in recent years makes it evident that the current provisions and system under the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 “are ill equipped to tackle child offenders in this age group,” the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said.
It also proposes to empower the Juvenile Justice Board to decide whether a juvenile above 16 years involved in heinous crimes such as rape is to be sent to a observation home or tried in a regular court.
However, according to the Bill, in no case the juvenile involved in a heinous crime would be sentenced to death or life imprisonment either when tried under the provisions of JJ Act or under the provisions of IPC.