Changing Juvenile Laws Will NOT Really Help

By Vivek Sugandh:

The pernicious outcomes of the Delhi gang rape has started to cool off as India enters into the New Year. All the clamour demanding justice and respect for women have started to fizzle out. In the midst of it all a new demand has come to light, the demand for the reduction in juvenile age from 18 to 16; a juvenile is a person below the age in which his/her criminal prosecution is not possible. As per the rule, a juvenile is kept in some reformatory school or a borstal jail to inculcate good ethics and manners. The want of reducing a juvenile’s age has gained momentum after a young boy was found to be one of the perpetrators in the heinous Delhi gang-rape and the subsequent death of the girl.

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People are advocating in favour of this by contending that minors are maturing fast and indulge in criminal offences including sexual crimes. Recently, the Delhi police commissioner had come forward in support of this demand. He said that considering the increasing number of crimes committed by the juveniles, the legal age of a juvenile delinquent should be reduced to 16 years; even the records are in favour of this demand. Police records have revealed that 1240 juveniles were allegedly apprehended last year; it was also found that most of them were guilty of barbaric cases of rape and molestation. It is really appalling to see that these young souls of the nation are going astray and the hand which should help in building a better India is in deep malice. Even the Supreme Court, the apex judiciary organ, has issued a notice to the Union Government on a Public Interest Litigation petition seeking a direction to amend the Juvenile Justice Act. However, this notice was regarding the alteration in the existing provisions regarding the applicability. Similarly, the court has received several petitions regarding the reduction as many people are advocating that all criminals below 18 years of age are misusing the protection provided to them by the statute.

Although I accept that today’s youth have become depraved but I genuinely feel that reducing the age is not a viable solution to the problem. The age limit has been set up after a lot of consideration about various things. A person below 18 years of age is very innocent and fragile and can be moulded in any direction which may lead to their deterioration. There must be an appointment of a criminal psychologist to determine whether the juvenile is a possible threat to society or not, if left free. The state of mind and mental setup of the juvenile should be studied to come to a conclusion about his understanding of things. I completely agree with the Supreme Court that decisions should be made on the basis of facts and circumstances of a particular case, irrespective of the age of the accused i.e. below 18 years. Apart from this, moral ethics should be imbibed in the youth through proper education and awareness.

I was really angered when someone said that the youth has made an utter mockery of the law because it was a riposte upon the young generation of India. We are facing the stereotyping created by some young people who commit barbaric crimes and then we forget all the hard work which young India is doing in order to prosper. Today, India is heralded as an emerging global power because the youth seem to be committed towards their purpose. So, the current age limit of a juvenile is fine and we should work towards dissipating this evilness from some of them.

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