Rajya Sabha begins discussion on amended Juvenile Justice bill

Maneka Gandhi, Union minister for women and child development
Maneka Gandhi, Union minister for women and child development

Discussion has started in the Rajya Sabha on 22 December, over the new Juvenile Justice bill. Union minister Maneka Gandhi rose to explain the nitty gritties of the bill.

The most notable amendment is the reduction of the age limit from 18 to 16 years. Explaining her argument, she said that, if a heinous crime such as rape, murder and in some cases arson is committed by a juvenile, he would be sent to a Juvenile Justice Board, which judges whether the crime committed was done so in the capacity of an adult and was well thought out. If so, the juvenile will be sent to an apostle till he turns 21.

Questioning whether the victim or the criminals were being protected, the Union minister said, after inspecting whether the convict had been reformed or not, the court would take further action.

Nirbhaya’s parents were also present in the House to watch the proceedings, especially the discussion of the new bill by the parliamentarians.

It may be noted that the new bill also plans to set up Juvenile Justice Boards  and Child Welfare Committees in each district of the country.

Arguing for a stronger law, Gandhi said that there are some sticky points which need to be discussed. The new bill does not mean a 16-year-old will go to jail immediately. She said it depends on the court which will decide whether the juvenile should be sent to a reform home or jail.

She went onto add that there has been a rise in juvenile crimes, as much as 50%, because the juveniles know that the police can do nothing to them, other than put them in a reformatory home.