During the discussion, Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi said there is a rise in crimes committed by juveniles and having a stronger law is the need of the hour.
Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad said there is no consensus on the age of the juvenile but care needs to be observed that there is no misuse of any kind.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said clear message should go from the house that the law won’t have retrospective effect.
CPM’s Sitaram Yechury spoke against reducing the age and demanded bill to be sent to select committee.
The discussion that lasted around 5 hours, WCD Minister said the government has considered carefully everyone’s concerns.
Nirbhaya’s parents were also present in the Rajya Sabha, they expressed happiness over the bill’s passage.
Now the child welfare board will decide whether the convicts of heinous crimes between the age bracket of 16-18 will be tried under the laws applicable to adults or the juvenile be sent to a reform home.
Under the prevalent law, convicted juveniles can be sent to a reform home for a max of three years.
Highlights and the features of the Juvenile Justice Bill
Parliament has finally responded to the outrage over the release of the juvenile convict in the Nirbhaya gang rape & murder case.
Cleared by the Lok Sabha earlier, Rajya Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice Bill, 2015 on Tuesday.
It clears the way for the replacement of the previous law which kept offenders aged below 18 years in the juvenile category ensuring lighter punishment compared to adults.
According to the provisions of the new law:
— Offenders aged between 16-18 years who commit heinous crimes like rape & murder can be tried as adults
— Offenders aged between 16-18 years committing serious crimes can be tried as adults only if they are arrested after completing 21 years
— 16-18 year-olds found guilty of committing heinous crimes can be jailed but cannot be given life or death sentences
— Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees will be constituted as district level
— JJBs will decide if 16-18 year-old offenders will be sent to reform homes or tried as adults
— Penalties for cruelty against children, offering narcotics to a child, abducting or selling a child remain unchanged
Heinous crimes are those where the punishment is jail for 7 years or more.
Serious crimes entail a jail term or 3-7 years. The need for harsher law was felt in recent years as the number of crimes committed by juveniles has increased sharply.
– In 2012, juveniles committed a total of 31,973 crimes
– In 2013, the figure went up to 35,861
– and in 2014, crimes committed by juveniles climbed up to 38,563
What raises an alarm is that more than half these crimes were committed against women.
The number of crimes committed by juveniles against women went up by 92% between 2012 and 2014.
The data also points out that the number of heinous crimes committed by juveniles in the last 10 years has gone up by over 50%.
It can only be hoped that with the new law, crimes committed by younger offenders can be curbed effectively.