The Juvenile Justice Bill: A Step Towards Justice
The Parliament of India recently passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Bill, 2015 which proposes that the accused between 16-18 years of age, juveniles, be tried as adults in the court of law for the commission of heinous offenses. Earlier, the law (under the 2000 Act) regarding juveniles was that, any child in conflict with law, irrespective of the type of offense committed, may spend a maximum of three years in institutional care and could not be given any penalty higher than three years, nor be tried as an adult and be sent to an adult jail. He/she was subjected to lighter punishments as provided in the Act. The earlier law being lenient towards the juveniles, led to an increase in the number of crimes committed by them as they had no fear of being punished and hence this Bill was needed.
What Changes Will This Bill Bring?
The Bill provides for the trial of those between 16-18 years as adults for heinous offences such as rape and murder. Heinous offences are those which are punishable with imprisonment of seven years or more. However, the severity of the offence, the circumstances of the offender and ability of the juvenile to understand the consequences of his or her actions shall be determined by the Juvenile Justice Board after preliminary investigation and only on its approval the Juvenile could be tried as an adult. It must be noted that Juveniles cannot be subjected to punishment of death or imprisonment without the possibility of release. Earlier the minors between 16-18 years of age were tried as Juveniles with regard to the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000.
Also, anyone between 16-18 years of age, who commits a less serious offence, if apprehended after he attains the age of 21 may be tried as an adult. The bill directs the setting up of Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both of these must comprise of at least one woman member each.
Why is The Bill Needed?
The number of crimes being committed by the Juveniles is increasing significantly and most of the Juveniles who commit the crimes are above 16 years of age. The umbrella of leniency over the Juveniles led them to commit heinous crimes such as rape and murder, without any hesitation and fear of punishment. This became unsafe for the children and the women and for the development of the whole nation. Thus, the Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi presented the Bill in August 2014. The Bill was already passed by the Lok Sabha and was recently passed by the Rajya Sabha as well.
Will it Lessen The Crime Rate?
If the Bill is implemented properly and systematically, there will always be a fear of punishment hanging over the Juveniles who think of committing heinous crimes. This will definitely lessen the crime rate among them. One of the major reasons for Juveniles committing heinous offences presently is the lenient laws. When the laws are made stricter, the Juveniles would think twice before taking any such step.
Benefits to The Society
The number of heinous crimes specially rape, murder and kidnapping of minor girls being committed by the Juveniles is increasing rapidly. This Bill will reduce the number of crimes and will make the society a safer place especially for the women and children. The Juveniles, who are the future of the nation, would be driven away from criminal activities which definitely would foster the development of the society and the nation as a whole.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Bill, 2015 is a level-headed step by the Parliament as it is the need of the hour. Given the significant increase in offences committed by Juveniles, a law was needed which would prevent the Juveniles from committing crimes and would facilitate the development and ensure safety of the society. The Juvenile Justice Bill if implemented properly would bring out wonderful results and would be an impeccable solution for reducing crime among Juveniles.
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