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Members oppose trying of 16-year-old as adults

Posted in S. Asia

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Published on May 08, 2015 with No Comments

• Opposing the Bill, Shashi Tharoor (Cong) said it was violative of the UN conventions of children and against the Constitution.The justice system should focus on “rehabilitation and not retribution”, he said, adding it would be “emotionally, ethically and morally” wrong to punish a child, who does not have accesss to basic facilities, like an adult.
• Minister Venkaiah Naidu said as an individual he feels that if a person is capable of committing a heinous crime of rape then the punishment will have to be in accordance to the crime.

Several members in Lok Sabha opposed a bill that provides for treating boys aged 16 and above at par with adults for punishment for heinous crimes like rape.
Rehabilitation and not retribution should be the policy, said many members while expressing concern over amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014.
The bill has been prepared against the backdrop of public outcry over the Delhi gangrape case of 2012 in which a juvenile accused got away with a ighter punishment because of his age.
Piloting the bill, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said in case a heinous crime has been committed by a person in the age group of 16-18 years it would be examined by a Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult’.
The trial of the juvenile, whether as an adult or child, would depend upon the opinion of the board which would comprise psychologists and social experts, she said.
The henious crimes, she said, would include those offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which attract jail term of over seven years.
The bill, she further said, proposed to modify the norms of adoption to ensure that uncared children find a suitable home as early as possible. As per the proposal, NRIs wanting to adopt a child be treated at par with resident Indians.
Although the members did not have problems with the provisions relating to adoption, they were divided over the issue of trying children between 16-18 years of age involved in henious crimes as adults.
Among those who supported the Juvenile Bill were Prahlad Patel (BJP) and Tathagata Satpathy (BJD) who argued that punishment should be linked to the gravity of crime not the age.
Opposing the Bill, Shashi Tharoor (Cong) said it was violative of the UN conventions of children and against the Constitution.The justice system should focus on “rehabilitation and not retribution”, he said, adding it would be “emotionally, ethically and morally” wrong to punish a child, who does not have accesss to basic facilities, like an adult.
There is no scientific system of determining the age of a children and in certain cases it is done by looking at the child, he said, and quipped “General (V K) Singh knows it.”
Singh, who is Minister of State for External Affairs, was involved in a prolonged legal battle over the issue of his age when he was the Army Chief four years back. Speaking on the issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said as an individual he feels that if a person is capable of committing a heinous crime of rape then the punishment will have to be in accordance to the crime.

 

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