LS passes bill to amend Juvenile Act

NEW DELHI (TIP): The Lok Sabha on Thursday cleared an amendment bill to try a juvenile in the age group of 16 to 18 years under the laws meant for adult offenders in case of commission of heinous crimes like rape, murder and armed robbery.

The Juvenile Justice  Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha with voice vote even as the Congress and some other Opposition members voiced concern over the passage of the bill with provision to try juveniles on a par with adults in case of heinous crimes.The Bill got approval of the Lok Sabha with at least 42 official amendments moved by the government. All the amendments moved by the Opposition members including Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and Revolutionary Socialist Party  leader N K Premchandran were defeated as they lacked numbers in support. Before the passage of the Bill, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi sought to allay the apprehensions of the Opposition members, particularly on the issue trying the juveniles in cases of heinous crimes, saying, she really “worked hard to be pro-child” in formulated the bill.

“In view of the increasing incidents of heinous crimes by juvenile on one hand and the voice of the child rights’ activists on the other, we have achieved a fine balance between the two aspects. The law cannot be lopsided and ignore the rights of the victims. The suffering of a victim of single heinous offence is equally worthy of action irrespective of the fact whether the offence was committed by a child or an adult,” she said.

Explaining how a juvenile charged with committing a heinous crime will be tried, she said if a child commits such a crime, he would not initially be sent to jail “at all”. Such juvenile in conflict with law will be sent to a “child-friendly institution and reformatory” while the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Board will take up the case for hearing.

The Juvenile Justice Board will decide whether the juvenile in conflict with law committed a heinous crime with a “child-like mind” or “an adult mind”.If it was found that such child committed a heinous crime with an adult mind, even then he or she would not be sent to a jail. “He goes to what is known as a Bostel, a specific area kept for children apart from the jail system,” she said, adding that such a child will be kept at the Bostel till he or she becomes 21 years old.

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