Juvenile Justice Bill: MPs oppose treating 16-yr-olds as adults

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said laws cannot be 'based on one instance alone'.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: May 7, 2015 5:15 am
Juvenile Justice Bill, Juvenile law, crime against children, crime committed by children, children crime law, juvenile crime law, gangrape crime, maneka gandhi, india news, nation news Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said laws cannot be ‘based on one instance alone’, claiming the bill was born out of the outrage against the juvenile offender in the December 16 gangrape case.

Claiming that its Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, has a “child-friendly approach”, the NDA government Wednesday said this bill became necessary because several issues had constrained the implementation of the existing legislation, even as some parties opposed the proposal to treat children aged 16 and above at par with adults for punishment of “heinous crimes” like rape.

Introducing the bill, Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said an increase in “heinous crimes” committed by children was one of the reasons that necessitated the new bill. Detailing the provisions of the bill, Gandhi said in case a heinous crime has been committed by a person in the age group of 16-18 years, it would be examined by a Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed with a “child-like mind” or an adult mind.

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She added that the trial of the juvenile, whether as an adult or child, would depend on the opinion of the board which would comprise psychologists and social experts.

She said the bill seeks to facilitate adoption, which is currently a “cumbersome” process, while also adding to the list of what are considered as offences against children.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said laws cannot be “based on one instance alone”, claiming the bill was born out of the outrage against the juvenile offender in the December 16 gangrape case. He said laws cannot be made to “appease to popular political sentiment”. He alleged the government was “choosing political expediency over justice” and it was an “inhuman idea” conceived by it. “It is morally, legally, constitutionally, ethically and emotionally wrong to treat children as adults,” Tharoor said, adding it was a “badly” written law and the government was “over-reacting to a handful of cases”.

Tharoor said more “hardened criminals than reformed adults” would be churned out if such a law comes into existence. “Justice should be about rehabilitation, not retribution,” he said.The Congress leader also pointed out the logistical difficulties involved in the determination of age of children in this country and said a child could be tried as being 16 but could well be younger.

Supporting the Bill for the changes it brought about in adoption laws, Supriya Sule (NCP) said the government cannot draft a bill based on emotion.

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  1. D
    Dr Motilal
    May 7, 2015 at 11:28 am
    It is not the age but intentional crime which justifies treatment of 16 year old as an adult. If this modification is not supported 'RAPE CRIME BY 16 to 17 year 11 months 29 days WILL INCREASE ". For heinous crime such as rape it is "NECESSARY ". It is followed in several developed countries including US.
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    1. C
      C.Ramakrishnaish
      May 7, 2015 at 7:37 am
      Agree with Mr.Tharoor.Juveniles include girls too.Would the same yardstick apply to a female juvenile?
      Reply
      1. E
        Egghead
        May 7, 2015 at 12:36 pm
        Don't treat 16-year old as an adult, but always treat an adult as a juvenile. Also give 2-legged mortals with clout, kid glove treatment.
        Reply
        1. S
          S.K.Gupta
          May 7, 2015 at 9:17 am
          Tharoor said that it was a “badly” written law and the government was “over-reacting to a handful of cases”. Could he please ever imagine the life long "sufferings' of any rape victims? Mind you, even a single such case "demolishes" the victim's entire family. Our MPs should go by the 'gravity' of the crime instead of taking into account only the age of the "criminals" as this is not a simple case of theft or snatching. Such emotional support would only embolden the juveniles. Think of the "victims" also.
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            Ramamurthi Kolagunta
            May 7, 2015 at 9:23 pm
            Tharoor I thought was one who had an analytical mind. Statistics of Juvenile cases, warranty a deterrent law, which this law has addressed. Tharoor probably has a mandate to oppose whatever the NDA does. He could be under threat like the previous PM.
            Reply
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