Rajya Sabha Passes Juvenile Justice Bill

Against the backdrop of a raging debate triggered by the release of a juvenile convicted in the Nirbhaya gangrape case, the Rajya Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill that permits those between 16 and 18 years of age to be tried as adults for heinous offences and provides for adoption of a more child-friendly approach in adjudication and rehabilitation of children involved in crimes.
Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi moved the bill, which had already been passed by the Lok Sabha earlier, in the Upper House after a debate that lasted nearly five hours. The CPM, NCP and DMK demanded that the bill be referred to a select committee of the House -a demand that even the Congress was making earlier, but dropped the idea eventually.
Moments before the bill was put to vote, the CPM staged a walkout in protest against the Chair's decision not to send the bill to a select committee. The new Act will replace the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 that had increased the age of punishment from 16 to 18 years.
Under the new Act, those between 16 and 18 years will be tried as adults for heinous offences, like rape and murder, as adults. It further states that any 16-18 year old, who commits a lesser serious offence, may be tried as an adult only if he is apprehended after the age of 21 years. Parents of Nirbhaya -who was brutally gangraped on the night of December 16, 2012, and succumbed to her injuries a few days later -were present in the visitors' gallery during the discussions on the bill.
Maneka Gandhi informed the House that the Juvenile Justice Board would from now on also include a psychologist. A better rehabilitation process would be adopted in the coming days and the government is working on it.The Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committee will be formed in each district of the country .
Reaching out to the main opposition, Maneka Gandhi reminded the Congress that the bill was theirs and not hers or the NDA government's.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government is showing haste in bringing this bill now as the juvenile convicted in the Nirbhaya case has been released three days back. He emphasised that opinion on reducing the age is divided and there is a debate on it the world over
CPM's Sitaram Yechury maintained though his party is in favour of a new Juvenile Law, various aspects of the issue should be looked into before passing it. “What if a child who is 15 years and 10 months old is found guilty of a heinous crime? ISIS is recruiting children between 14 and 15 years...“

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