55 pc minor offenders from 'poor' families

55 pc minor offenders from 'poor' families
More than half of the minors apprehended for crimes belong to families having a monthly income less than around Rs 2,100, the government said on Tuesday as Rajya Sabha MPs discussed ways to tighten laws on juveniles.

The figures provided by the Home Ministry in Lok Sabha showed that the number of such juveniles is increasing year after year. While 52.8 per cent juveniles in 2012 were in this income group, it rose to 55.6 per cent in 2014.

Of the 48,230 juveniles apprehended in 2014, 26,809 minors belonged to families with annual income of Rs 25,000 while it was 21,409 out of 39,822 in 2012 and 21,860 (50.2 per cent) out of 43,506 in 2013.

On the other hand, only 439 or 0.91 per cent of minors apprehended for crimes belonged to families with an annual income of over Rs three lakh or Rs 25,000 per month. In 2012, 0.84 per cent of the juveniles came from the income group while it was 0.55 per cent in 2013.

It will be interesting to note that annual income of 92.28 per cent of families of juveniles in 2014 was less than Rs one lakh, buttressing the point raised by child rights activists that one cannot ignore their socio-economic conditions that could have played a part in them committing crimes.

Bihar has the highest number of juveniles apprehended (4,912 out of 6,404) who belong to the Rs 25,000 income category followed by Gujarat (4,020 out of 4,647).

Gujarat’s 86.50 per cent juveniles are from the poorest of the poor strata, while it has just three juveniles whose families have annual income of more than Rs 3 lakh.

Other major states that have higher number of juveniles apprehended with annual income less than Rs 25,000 are Madhya Pradesh (3,827), Maharashtra (3,087), Rajasthan (1,362), Delhi 1,252 and West Bengal (1,063).

Of the 640 juveniles apprehended in Karnataka in 2014, 303 belonged to families with annual income below Rs 25,000 while there were no juveniles whose family had more than Rs 3 lakh annual income. In a written reply, Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said rules focus on rehabilitation and social reintegration of children to help them restore their dignity and self-worth and mainstreaming them through rehabilitation within the family wherever possible. “Long-term institutional care is to be the last resort,” he said.

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