Indian Catholic News

Satyarthi opposes lowering legal age of 'juvenile'

A group of senior ministers is now having a re-look at the proposed legislation.


Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi on Friday opposed the proposal to lower the legally defined age of "juvenile" but called for special measures to deal with heinous crimes committed by teenagers.

"I am against minimizing or decreasing age of 'juvenile'. The care and protection must be provided to all children up to the age of 18 under the international norms and treaties," the rights activist said at a 'Meet the Press' programme at Hyderabad Press Club here.

Stating that the Juvenile Justice Act should be amended, he said the amendments proposed by the government would be known only after it tables the bill.

"If a 16 or 17 or 17 and a half years old boy is raping a two months old girl and killing her, then there has to be provision to stop this. This will be important in the measures the government is taking, but it doesn't mean that the age of 'juvenile' should be brought down," said the child rights activist.

"When a juvenile or teenager or adolescent is engaged in such kind of heinous crimes, which attract death penalty (or) life imprisonment, like gang rape, killing of girls and women, then they have to be given special attention, not just keeping them there (correctional homes) for three months and releasing," he added.

Satyarthi, however, said the young men should not be kept in the same prison where criminals are kept as this will further spoil them. "There should be special measures. It calls for lot of thinking," he said.

There have been demands for lowering the legally defined age of 'juvenile' from the existing 18 to 16 or to try heinous offenders in the age group 16-18 under the Indian Penal Code instead of the Juvenile Justice Act.

Under the existing law, the maximum punishment to a juvenile offender is confinement in a reform or correctional home for a maximum period of three years.

The demands were made against the backdrop of a minor convicted in the December 16, 2012, Delhi gang-rape case being sent to reform home for three years.

The union cabinet in August last year cleared the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, and sent it to parliament. However, the parliamentary standing committee on human resource development asked for the provision of trying 16-18-year-olds under the Indian Penal Code to be reviewed as it would go against Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution.

A group of senior ministers is now having a re-look at the proposed legislation.


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