Bill passes Rajya Sabha test, juvenile age cut to 16

The much-anticipated Juvenile Justice Bill finally passed the floor test approving to lower the age of juveniles from 18 to 16
Bill passes Rajya Sabha test, juvenile age cut to 16

New Delhi

The upper house took up the Bill a day after the juvenile accused in the infamous 2012 Delhi gangrape-cum-murder case walked free. Several parties, including NCP, CPI(M) and DMK, pushed for sending the bill to a Select Committee, arguing that further examination was required to decide whether the age for punitive action should be reduced to 16 years from the current level of 18 years. 
Moving the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill for consideration and passage, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said the legislation is “compassionate” and comprehensive in nature. She said the juvenile crime is the fastest rising segment of the crime and “You cannot have a more comprehensive, more nuanced and compassionate Bill.”
 Reaching out to the main opposition, she reminded the Congress that the Bill was theirs and not hers or the NDA government. “We may not be able to do anything about the juvenile convict in the Delhi gangrape case, but we can deter many other boys from doing so,” she pleaded. Explaining the nuances of the bill, the Minister said no juvenile will be sent to the jail directly. 
The Justice Board has experts and psychologists who will first decide whether the crime committed has been “childlike” or was it committed in an “adult frame of mind”. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who initiated the discussion on the Bill, took a dig at Naidu, saying even when the House was running smoothly, he was taking “panga”. 
Taking a dig at the government, Azad said when the Juvenile law was first enacted by the Rajiv Gandhi dispensation, the cutoff age was 16. Had the juvenile convict in Nirbhaya case not been released, the government would not have been serious about the Bill, he said. Azad said there should be separate facility for those juveniles who are sent to jail and they should not be put up with hardened criminals.
Highlights of Bill 
  • The Bill permits juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years to be tried as adults for heinous offences.
  • Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) and Child Welfare Committees to be constituted in each district.
  • The JJB will conduct an inquiry to determine whether a juvenile offender is to be sent for rehabilitation or be tried as an adult. 
  • Eligibility of adoptive parents and the procedure for adoption have been included in the Bill.  
  • Penalties for cruelty against a child, offering narcotic substance to a child, and abduction or selling a child have been prescribed.

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