New Delhi: The draft to amend the Juvenile Justice Act has been finalised and will be presented to the Law Ministry for opinion, say sources. The Women and Child Welfare Ministry is hoping to table the draft in the Winter Session of Parliament after seeking the Law Ministry's opinion on the proposed draft.
Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had recently opined that juveniles who commit heinous crimes like rape should be treated at par with adults. She said that according to the police, 50 per cent of all sexual crimes were committed by "16-year-olds who know the Juvenile Justice Act so they can do it." She had said that she would bring changes in the law and the process would be personally monitored by her.
Soon after her statement, the Supreme Court had also called for a more stringent Juvenile Justice Act. "You can't have a cut-off date for crime like you have for government jobs," the apex court had said. Questioning the immunity enjoyed by the under-age offenders, SC asked the government to re-visit the law and make necessary changes.
The decision is at odds with the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, which was formed after the 2012 Delhi gangrape to amend the Criminal Justice Act. A report by the panel stated that the age ceiling of 18 must be maintained as the aim of the Juvenile Justice Act is to reform the child offender.
Former WCD Minister Krishna Tirath during the previous UPA regime too had proposed that juveniles above 16 years guilty of heinous crimes be treated on par with adult offenders.