Sunday, 3 May 2015

New Juvenile Laws in India: Are 15 yr old really Juvenile ?


Times of India reported a week back as follows:

"NEW DELHI: The Juvenile Justice Act will be changed to allow for trial of juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years accused of heinous crimes under the Indian Penal Code, with the Modi government bowing to public clamour for tough deterrent against young criminals who go unpunished because of the lenient provisions under the law.

As per the changes cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, Juvenile Justice Boards will determine whether a juvenile accused of a heinous crime ought to be treated as a "child" or adult". The proposed Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill also provides for the classification of different crimes as "petty", "serious" and "heinous", providing for differentiated processes for each category.
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Is this what we were fighting for ?? Was our target just to beat up the boys who commit rape and are above the age of 16 ?? Here is an interesting question for the law-makers -- What if a guy who is 15 years old commits rape ?? Are we again going to get into this circus of reducing the juvenile bar from 16 to 15 this time ??

I want to ask this question to my readers -- How comfortable do the young adult women population feels when at 7am every morning, a 15 year old rings your bell to drop milk packets or a 15 year old drops newspapers. Something really hard-hitting happened to me when I was walking down the stairs of my apartments last evening. I saw a young boy and a young girl, both from well to do families, both in their early teens, in a compromising situation. Now, this was very disturbing to me. Are these boys really juvenile ??

A crime such as murder, can be committed in the heat of passion without understanding that how a strong hit on someone's head can lead to death and not just unconciousness. I understand why this falls in the juvenile umbrella. But a crime like rape is always pre-meditated and the offender is very very well aware of what he is doing and what is the consequence. It is just unfair to let any rapist, and I mean any rapist, irrespective of the age, go free based on the juvenile umbrella.

Am I happy about this modification of the Indian Penal Code ?? It is like asking a person who has been thirsty for 20 days in a desert -- will a drop of water is good enough to quench your thirst ?

We still have a long way to go and the journey has hardly even started.

Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist and the author of novel #IAm16ICanRape: The War Against Rape Culture. 

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