Raising concern over the amendments introduced in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection ) Bill, 2014, by the NDA government, eminent academic and professor at the Faculty of Law, Delhi University, Ved Kumari said the move was a “political response” to crisis we are facing with respect to rise in sexual crimes.
Lashing out at the proposal to lower the age under the Juvenile Justice Act, Kumari said the logic used by the proponents that juveniles are committing crimes because they are not punished has no scientific backing.
“If we look at this logic, then adults are punished for committing sexual crimes. But can you build a logic that since adults are punished for committing crimes, have they stopped committing sexual crimes?” she said. She said three out of every 1 lakh children commit offences in India and that reason for commission of crime is a complex process.
She also opposed the argument that since juveniles who are just short of 18 years should be punished because they are very close to being “adults”.
“The argument that a juvenile should be punished because he is very close to being 18 years has no rationale. A serious offence can be committed by a child below 16 years also — there is inherent arbitrariness in this argument. School dropouts are the largest chunk of juveniles.
They mostly belong to low-income groups. Since they are associated with adults they tend to commit crimes. The most effective way is to reform them without them being punished,” she said.
She also raised the issue of “conflict of interest” in the Ministry of Women and Child Development over the drafting to the bill. “The ministry is supposed to protect children but are framing laws to punish them. They are also creating a perception that it is children who are responsible for crime against women, forgetting the real issues,” she said.