SHOULD JUVENILE JUSTICE ACT BE AMENDED? – Rakshita Poddar and Rahat Dhawan BA LLB 2012

images (4)Meting out “exemplary punishment” to juveniles (those below 18 years of age) involved in heinous crimes, such as rape and murder, by amending the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

The petition, filed by an advocate Salil Bali, pleaded that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, needs amendment, as it does not talk about the physical or mental maturity of a juvenile.

It gives license to all matured, cruel type of persons under the age of 18 years to live with full impunity and commit any crime of any level and walk scot free only on the basis of their age being less than 18 years and being covered under the Act, Bali said in his petition. He submitted that the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and Rules, fixing the age of juvenile at 18 years, violated Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.

The protest comes in the wake of an order passed by the Juvenile Justice Board in New Delhi on August 31 directing a 17-year-old convict in the gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student to undergo three years, the maximum tenure prescribed under the JJ Act, in a correctional home.

Therefore, The protestors called for more stringent punishment to the offender.

T. Hilda Mary, State Committee member of AIMSS, told The Hindu that it was unfair to order a juvenile to be lodged in a correctional home for petty crimes such as theft as well as heinous crimes such as rape and murder. “Ordering a rape convict to spend just three years in a correctional home is not going to deter others from committing crimes against women, “Case in support: – In July, 2010, a 26-year-old youth, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Tirunelveli sessions court as well as the High Court in a triple murder case, was ordered to be released by the High Court Bench after it was proved through a habeas corpus petition that he was only 17 years, 7 months and 8 days old on March 3, 2001, the day when he murdered three people.

In my opinion, the scenario is changing day by day. So, the law should keep up with the changing times. Children nowadays are exposed to crime and violence via media. The entertainment industry projects women as objects of pleasure. Children imitate what they see. In films, a hero comes and rescues the damsel in distress. In real life, they know there are no heroes, and hence they think they can get away easily. What is required is speedy justice for the victims and not just candle marches. The amendment should be specific and it should not be left at the discretion of the judge to take a decision based on circumstances and gravity of individual offences.

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government on a PIL seeking amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act to make an exception for non-applicability of the Act for minor accused if they are involved in grave offences.

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About cwlsc

The Centre for Women, Law and Social Change has been established to advance inter-disciplinary approaches to feminism in teaching, research and policy advocacy. Along with academic commitment to high-quality research in the field of gender and the Centre aims to actively contribute to wider legal thinking on issues related to social justice. The Centre aims to support the initiatives of all the Centres of the JGU and actively collaborate with international, national and grassroots organisations. It encourages various student initiatives in the field of gender and social justice, and seeks to encourage critical thinking on how gender operates in a dynamic with other structures of power in both historical and contemporary contexts. The Centre members teach courses on Feminist Jurisprudence; Gender Law and Governance and Family Law.
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