With the news of the juvenile getting freed in 48 hours, the debate of whether the Juvenile Laws need to be changed is getting heated up. A section of the population with strong backing from media and online petitions is seeking to pass the changes to the JJ bill in RS so that even juveniles can be treated like adults for serious crimes. Unfortunately, even the ministry that is supposed to work to juvenile welfare is also forcing harshest punishment for our juveniles. However, here are the reasons why one outlier case can’t decide the fate of our juveniles in future due to following reasons –
The guiding principles of adjudicating matters involving juveniles are as follows –
- If this ONE crime leads to any change in JJ Act in favour of sending all future juvenile offenders to adult prisons, that will stop their reforms and any possibility of future contribution. This is especially dangerous for a nation as these juveniles will then surely take entry into the criminal or terrorist world.
- For any crime pertaining to juvenile offenders, it is NOT the crime or intensity of the crime but situation that had led to the crime should determine the punishment. This is because juveniles can easily be misguided to commit a crime. Under such situation treating a juvenile with the formative bend of mind as an adult will only lead to disaster.
- If some countries who were signatories of international treaties banning juvenile punishment as adults have departed from the same, it is because their juvenile crime rate has gone much higher than that in India. Thus making any exception to change the JJ system is only outrageous and very harsh for our future boys.
- India is already a signatory to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 (Beijing Rules); the Convention of the Rights of the Child, 1990 (CRC) and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, 1990 (Havana Rules) – these obliges India to set up a juvenile justice system separate from the criminal justice system.
- “The gravity of crime” – another popular theory brought forward by feminists to change the JJ Act also needs the facts to be established that the juvenile was equally cruel and participative in the crime and was not lured into or not taken away by other adult criminals around. The same arguments used to protect adult women criminals in murder or other heinous crimes.
- Even if the true test of “juvenility” is attributed to the mental maturity of the accused instead of their age, in the case of Delhi Gang Rape too, the juvenile who belonged lower strata of socioeconomic background and India’s backward classes can’t be classified in any manner as mentally adult.
- The main objective of JJ board is to ensure that juveniles can get reformed and contribute to the building of the nation in later years of their life. Since juveniles can be lured into any crime without the proper maturity to understand the gravity of the consequences they are better given this chance to live rather than being harsh on them.
- The reaction is proportional to the gravity of the crime with the needs of the juvenile and the society in mind
- Restrictions on the personal liberty of the juvenile are kept at a minimum for their benefit and reforms
- Deprivation of personal liberty to a juvenile be imposed only for grave or repeated crimes and when no other alternatives are available
- The well-being of the juvenile is considered first as their reform is the main social issue
- The state committee formed under article 43 of CRC (Convention of Rights for the Child, 1990) has already recommended against the detention of children with adults criminals
- The United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty and the Vienna Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System prohibits the state to punish juveniles as adults.
- The Vienna Convention also recommended that article 29(h) of Juvenile Justice Act be amended to fully cover boys under 18 years of age as juveniles as girls are covered.
The way Indian feminists and certain media is making unabated attempt to pass the amendments to Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) ACT to make juveniles same as adult criminals, shows the existing misandry in the society. WCD ministry, that is supposed to act for the welfare of children irrespective of their gender is acting against the welfare of boys merely based on emotional and lynch crowd mentality instead of taking an informed decision. Thus they have lost their moral ground to be called a ministry for children’s welfare as well.
If today, India demands to bring down this age to 16 years for boys, then considering the fact that girls mature faster compared to boys should be brought under this provision at the age of 14 years. Will the activists shout for JJ Act Amendments please start demanding that first?