Proposal to try juveniles as adults slammed

The Delhi government’s proposal to try juveniles of 15 to 18 years as adults for heinous crimes has got a thumbs down from legal experts and rights activists who have termed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s suggestion as “mindless” and vouched for a need to educate minor offenders.

Child rights activists and lawyers said the Delhi government’s proposal was not a solution for the increasing number of crimes by minors, and instead of trying to change the law, the focus should be on creating awareness, speedy trials and convictions.

However, neither agreeing with the activists nor with Kejriwal, Congress MP and noted criminal lawyer K T S Tulsi said lowering the age of juveniles to 16 years was necessary as it would give them a message that they cannot be let off easily.

Kejriwal had recently suggested that the age bar for juvenile offenders be lowered from 18 to 15 years and they be tried in regular courts. Two juveniles were arrested for allegedly raping a two-and-a-half-year-old girl in Nihal Vihar here this month.

Activist Ranjana Kumari said, “Lowering the age of juveniles to try them as adults is a mindless suggestion and not a solution to curb the crime”. 

Similarly, advocate Vrinda Grover termed the suggestion as a “retrograde step” and that awarding harsh punishments to juveniles would turn them into hardened criminals.

Child rights activist Anant Kumar Asthana said lowering the age will not be of any help.

However, chairman of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Atul Mathur, partly supported the amendment in Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill which is pending in the Rajya Sabha, according to which the Juvenile Justice Board judge would decide if a case where a juvenile is involved in heinous crime be sent to a regular trial court.

“In case of incidents involving juveniles, it is not the question of lowering the age but the need is for Juvenile Justice Boards to have a serious look and be given discretion to send a 16-year-old to normal court if required.

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