Are we all set to prepare more criminals?
Are we not making the framework for producing more criminals by putting them in the serious trials?
Are the Indian remand homes and borstals the right place for them to gain rehabilitation?
Are we not contributing to get the crime score high in the country?
Well, the answers are not in favour of the offenders between the age of 16 to 18!
The Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014, which is earning the ire of child rights groups, was passed in the Lok Sabha a few days back, with minimum support for amendments suggested by the opposition. It was moved for consideration by Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Welfare.
The bill makes some unanimously agreed upon changes for better implementation of the 2000 act.
It proposes trial of children aged between 16 and 18 as adults for heinous crimes (the offences for which the minimum punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being in force is imprisonment for seven years or more) in case the Juvenile Justice Board finds them physically and mentally capable of such a crime.
Shashi Tharoor made an impassioned speech against the lowering of age for trial on both days. “I want to stress, Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, that children below the age of 18 must be saved from prison, must be protected from the regular criminal framework. We cannot sacrifice a child, appease popular political sentiments,” he said.
New offences, including illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child care institutions, use of children by terrorist groups and offences against disabled children have also been incorporated in the proposed legislation.
Other opposition members also opposed the proposal to raise the age bar, expressing apprehensions about misuse and violation of rights of children by the new law which is being enacted against the backdrop of the involvement of a 16-year-old in the 2012 Nirbhaya Gangrape Case in Delhi.
Opposition does have a point here, as most of the juvenile law offenders originate from the poor strata of the society and the reasons of the crime are most obvious. However, Menaka Gandhi underscored the point that poverty may provoke anger and envy but it cannot be used as an excuse for crimes. She suggested that there could be some other factors for crimes. She underlined that under the proposed law, any juvenile aged between 16 years and 18 years will stay in Borstal, an institution meant for housing adolescent offenders, till the age of 21 years whatever be the sentence.
Looking at the conditions and the treatments that is given in such borstals or juvenile remand homes, we are not definitely going to prepare anything which may be seen as a reformed child. And then the trial just like another criminal is bound to make them hard-skinned about their acts and the brains may get instigated as of the seasoned criminals.
If an adolescent brain committed an act out of lack of understanding or any other unavoidable reasons, or other influential outer physical factors, they deserve a chance to be tried as an adolescent only. Putting them amidst hardcore criminals during the trials will definitely push them towards crime. Mental and physical influences work faster than anything else in our society. They will not shy away from committing more once out on the roads!
The crime score is not going to get curbed by such reforms put to action!
Please do share your views on this with us!