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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

10 things you must know about the Juvenile Justice Bill

Two days after the juvenile in December 16 gangrape was set free, Rajya Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice (Amendment) Bill 2015 in the Parliament on Tuesday. The bill was introduced in the Parliament a year ago after a major outrage over the release of one of the key accused in the December 16 case due to him being a few months short of 18 years. The bill had already been approved by the Lok Sabha in May and now awaits a final nod from the President of India.
The bill that was introduced by Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, in August 2014, was passed amidst displeasure expressed by the Left parties that even staged a walkout afterwards. The parties had demanded the bill be sent for further examination to a select committee. But the Speaker disapproved the request.
December 16 gangrape of a 23-year-old medical student, Jyoti Singh, in the heart of the national capital had led to a furore across the country. With people staging protests, candle light vigils, and what not demanding better security and safety measures for women citizens in the country, in general and in the capital, in particular.
The Juvenile Justice Bill was passed in the Parliament amidst not just political leaders but also the parents of the deceased- Jyoti Singh- who have called the passing of the bill a tribute to their daughter.
Here are 10 things you must know about the Juvenile Justice Bill:
1- The bill allows for lowering the age of juveniles from 18 years to 16 years.
2- Juveniles of 16 years or older will be tried as adults for heinous offences like rape and murder with imprisonment of seven years or more.
3- Every district will now have a Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees with at least one woman member, a judicial magistrate and two social workers as members.
4- The Juvenile Justice Board will have the sole discretion to try a juvenile 16 years or older as an adult or send him for rehabilitation.
5- The bill has made provisions for children ‘in conflict with law’ and ‘in need of care and protection.’ The bill will aim to provide such children with basic needs ‘through proper care, protection, development, treatment, social re-integration, by adopting a child-friendly approach.’
6- The bill also aims to pass any judgement towards a juvenile keeping in mind the best interest of the children and their rehabilitation.
7- Experts have differing opinions on the trial of a juvenile. While some are in favor of the existing law, others think to prevent repeat offences a reformative approach should be taken.
8- The bill violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which mandates that all children under the age of 18 years be treated equal.
9- Talking about the adoption of children, the bill lays down the eligibility criteria for adoptive parents and the presence of a central adoptive resource agency framing the rules for adoption, to be implemented by state and district level agencies.

10- The trial of a juvenile as an adult accused of a heinous offence could lead to violation of Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (laws fair and reasonable for all). Further, if a higher penalty is proposed for the same offence and the person is apprehended after 21, the board becomes against the spirit of Article 20(1).

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