BANGALORE: Non-government organisations (NGOs) working for child rights have opposed the recent amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act 2000.
The amendment allows juveniles who have committed heinous crimes to be tried as adults.
Many NGO activists said trying juveniles with other adult criminals can initiate them into the world of crime. Antony Sebastian, Executive Director, Empowerment of Children and Human Rights Organisation, said the amendment will push children into repeating crimes because once they are tried with hardened criminals, they may move towards the world of crime.
What Does the Amendment Say?
The amendment, which has received the Centre’s nod, states that if a juvenile, aged between 16 to 18 years, commits crimes of murder, rape, gangrape or acid attack or is a repeat offender of robbery, kidnapping, abduction, and human trafficking, the Juvenile Justice Board, after a preliminary inquiry, can transfer the juvenile to a regular court for trial. It also says that if convicted, the minor will be punished and sentenced as an adult and has to spend the punishment time in jail.
Many NGOs are of the view that the government has taken the decision to amend the Act following public uproar over the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case in which one of the accused was a minor.
“Bills have to be based not on public emotions, but on authentic data,” said Kavita Ratna, Director, Advocacy, The Concerned for Working Children. The child rights’ activists are urging that the government needs to focus more on rehabilitation and counselling, which are lacking but necessary for juveniles. “Coercion and control cannot reduce juvenile recidivism,” explained Ratna.
“The amendment lacks a holistic approach which studies the root causes of juveniles committing crime and also the provisions for preventive measures. It also lacks measures to ensure the well-being of children within their communities and families,” she said.