BENGALURU: The passage of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2015 in the Rajya Sabha has dismayed child rights experts, who feel the government passed the Bill without giving it much thought.
The widespread outcry against the release of the juvenile convicted in the Nirbhaya case, prompted the government to table the Bill and pass it without much debate. Activists now hope the President who has to give his assent, will send it back to the House for reconsideration.
Child rights activist Sheila Devraj says “As a child rights activist, I feel we have completely failed in this matter and I am really disappointed with this new law. I think we should have waited before passing it.”
Sheila feels that parents plays a very important role now in the path children take. “Our lives have become very busy and there is no one to take care of the child. If the child gets minimum attention, minimum rights and minimum basic needs, then it may lead to them committing such heinous crimes,” she opines.
Veteran child rights activist Vasudev Sharma too hopes the President will return the Bill. “This is a hurried decision taken by the government. According to statistics available from 2008 to 2012, there were 1,566 cases of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, but in 2013, there were 3,620 cases. The reason for this is the POCSO Act. According to me, the government should leave this decision to the states because ours is a federal structure and each state must assume responsibility for such laws”, he says.
Striking a contrary note, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Kripa Alva said the decision to pass the Bill was correct, but also felt reformation of juvenile offenders is extremely important.
[[Ten years back, when we went to Parappana Agrahara Central Jail, we identified 165 undertrials who were below 18 years of age. Most of these children are from poor backgrounds and are illiterate.
Vasudeva Sharma, Former member of the Karnataka State Child Welfare Commission