Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday announced that his government will examine and recommend a proposal to lower the age of juvenile offenders from 18 to 15 in cases of heinous crimes such as rape and murder.
The Delhi Cabinet met Monday afternoon to discuss various measures that the government can take to tackle crimes against women.
It also decided that a Group of Ministers (GoM) — headed by Deputy Chief Minister and Law minister Manish Sisodia, and including Home minister Satyendar Jain — will recommend if the accused in rape cases which involve minors should be given maximum punishment of life imprisonment or death.
“The GoM will examine certain proposals, hold discussions and deliberations over what amendments need to be made to which laws and bring a proposal before the Cabinet in 15 days. If a minor is raped, the punishment should be either life imprisonment or death penalty. If rape, murder or any heinous crime takes place, then in such cases, the age of the juvenile should be 15,” said Kejriwal.
Government sources said since both the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code come under the concurrent list of the Constitution, the government will consider bringing about state amendments in the existing laws.
Officials said if the Parliament decides to lower the age of juvenile offenders from 18 to 16, the Delhi government will accept its decision.
The government, however, can bring about a state amendment that will be applicable only in the capital, said sources. The amendment will have to be ratified by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The proposal to award a maximum punishment of death in crimes such as rape of a minor, comes a month after the Law Commission of India recommended the abolition of capital punishment for all offences other than terrorism-related offences and waging war against the country.
“Death penalty is still in our statute books and the government is considering a proposal to hand out enhanced punishment of life imprisonment or death in offences of rape involving minors with the purpose of deterrence,” said a source.
The source added that the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 — which pertains to amendments made to rape laws made after the December 2012 gangrape — also prescribes the death penalty for repeat offences of gangrape.
Kejriwal said there has already been a lot of discussion on the proposal to lower the age of juvenile offenders in the country.
“Charchayein bahut hui hai, abhi tak karvaee nahi hui hai (There have been many discussions but no inquiry). The things I am saying are not new. There are so many committees and commissions sitting over this. The GoM will study the reports of all the commissions and also consult legal experts. But they will bring a concrete proposal to the Cabinet in 15 days so that we can present the amendment Bill in the forthcoming assembly session,” he said.