There are calls to dilute the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 in the light of the judgment in Delhi Gang rape-Nirbhaya case. The Juvenile Justice board that the boy who brutally raped the paramedical student would go virtually free by sentencing him to only 36 months. In effect he has to be in the remand home only 28 months as 8 months has already been served.
This is a crime which shook country’s conscience, brought the unprecedented street protest which triggered the collective introspection of anger and anguish over the safety of women and girls. But even though it is one among the most sensitive cases there is a view that the young perpetrator had been able to get likely by using the benefits of months to be and adult. The Act
The Juvenile Justice Act was passed in India during 2000 followed by the UN Convention on the rights of child in 1989.The basic principle underlying in the act is the legal philosophy that a juvenile lacks the physical and mental maturity to take responsibility for the crimes involved by them. Their characters are not fully developed and still have the possibility of being rehabilitated. This act replace the regular judicial process with reformatory facility supervised probation or the stay in observation homes over imprisonment .The law tries to reform a younger offender rather than confining him for decades imprison with adult criminals.
The act creates a child friendly system in which persons below the age of 18, who commits any offence punishable under any law existing in India, are not subject to imprisonment. Instead of sending those to jail the juvenile offender will be subjected to advice, counseling, community service, payment of fine and utmost sent him to remand home.
The total crime rate in India is increasing. The percentage of juvenile offenders is not significantly increased. But the crimes against women by juveniles are increasing. As per the report of National Crime records Beauro the number of rapes committed by juveniles has more than doubled over the past decade from 2001 to 2010.According to National crime records Beauro there was an alarming increase in cases of rape by juveniles by nearly 300.This is almost as much as increase in such cases over the entire decade. Hence a substantive debate on the adequacy of Juvenile Justice Act to deal with the crimes against women is needed.
According to the theories of punishment its purpose can be viewed in two angles 1.punishment being end in itself 2.It is the method of protecting the society by reducing criminal behavoiur. According to the reformative theory of punishment no child is born as criminal. Criminality is the gift of community and the product of circumstances. Reformation is possible only for those who desire to be reformed, who are capable of reform. But we cannot reform those who are beyond reformation. The punishment creates terror in heart of potential crime doer. The punishment to the man in dock teaches one who think of doing those crimes. So young offenders above a certain age, who commit heinous crimes should be prosecuted and it will be lesson to the others of similar circumstances.
Why this 18?
The UN Convention for child rights and the Beijing rules do not fix 18 as the age of juvenile. The UN convention does not prohibit prosecuting a child below the age of 18 who has committed an offence under the regular penal laws. There were circumstances which interpreted the age of maturity above 16.In the famous ‘Suryanelli case’ the court interpreted that the victim completed her 16 years and have the capacity to give a valid consent and interpreted the law against the girl and favoured the accused. But here in ‘Nirbhaya case’, the criminal has remaining few months to attain majority is interpreted infavour of the criminal and not the victim.
Think of amendment
The interest in protection of Juvenile has to be balanced with the protection of women and other vulnerable members of the society. In view of the significant increase in rapes committed by juveniles an amendment in JJ Act necessitated. By the amending the JJ Act it is to provide that the offenders between the age of 16-18 who are accused of rape, kidnapping and abduction of women and girls will be exempted from the Jurisdiction of Juvenile Justice Board and tried according to the general criminal system.