New Delhi: On Tuesday, the parliament passed the juvenile justice bill, a day after members cutting across party lines concurred that the important legislation should be commenced immediately.
Those between 16 and 18 years of age should be considered as adults for heinous offences as provided by the bill. Also, anyone between the age of 16 and 18 who perpetrates a less serious offence may be tried as an adult if he is apprehended after he attains the age of 21.
Key provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015
· Juveniles aged 16-18 accused of heinous crimes (rape, murder) to be tried as adults
· Could face imprisonment up to 7 years but won’t get life sentence or death penalty
· Juvenile Justice Board to decide if every accused minor should be tried under Juvenile Justice Act or in regular trial court
· Juveniles convicted under the regular justice system cannot contest polls and are ineligible for government jobs
· Corporal punishment has been made an offence and is punishable between 6 months and 3 years in jail
· Employing a child for begging will invite up to 10 years in jail
· Use of children by militants will carry up to 7 years in jail
Currently, a juvenile incriminated (under 18 years) is tried by the Juvenile Justice Board and if convicted, sent to a reform home for a period of maximum 3 years ( as in the case of Nirbhaya gang rape and the recently-released convict).
On Tuesday, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said a custodial institution for young offenders would be set up as per the proposed law to house juveniles accused of horrendous crimes. The existing law emboldened the juvenile crime, she said.
“Juvenile’s crime is increasing at a rapid speed. Children walk into police stations saying we have murdered, send us to a juvenile home.”
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said there should be a seperate place for the juvenile convicts and they should not be kept in jail with “hardened criminals”.
M. Venkaiah Naidu, Parliamentary Affairs Minister said that the bill has been listed several times by the government in the monsoon season as well as the winter season, but it could not be taken up. The law will not be applicable on the rape convict who has already been released.
However, none of the notices to send the bill to a house panel were presented to Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechurycalled it an emotional move and questioned, ” if a 15-year or 11-months old commits a crime will the definition be changed again?”
Kurien, however, said there was no proposal to send the bill to a panel, after which members of the Left parties staged a walkout.
The bill was passed through voice vote after that.