Citing an increase in crimes committed by minors against women, a Parliamentary Committee has recommended lowering the age of male juveniles from 18 to 16 years and suggested a serious debate on remedial measures to check the trend.
Relying on data provided by various agencies, the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women has urged the Centre to "reconsider the aspect of reduction of age of male juvenile from 18 to 16 years for the purpose of being tried for crimes committed against women and offences under various laws of the country."
In its report on 'victims of sexual abuse and trafficking and their rehabilitation', the panel observed that a total of 22,740 crimes punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were committed by juveniles during the year 2010.
The figure increased to 25,125 during 2011 -- an increase of around 10.5 per cent.
It said the crimes against women committed by juveniles have also shown an upward trend. In 2010, juveniles were involved in 858 cases of rape, 391 cases of abduction of women and 536 cases of molestation.
The figures rose to 1,149 cases of rape, 600 cases of abduction of women and 573 cases of molestation in 2011.
The Committee also analysed the profile of juveniles apprehended, and found that most of the crimes have been committed by male juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years.
As per the definition of juveniles in the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, male below the age of 16 and female below the age of 18 years were considered as juveniles.
The Act was amended in the year 2000 and the age of juvenile males and females was brought at par as below the age of 18 years.
The report said the reasons for juveniles getting into various forms of crime vary from impulsive disorder, peer pressure, disturbed environment to broken family, aggression, lavish lifestyles and uncontrolled freedom from parents.
"The committee would like to caution on the dangerous trend of increased involvement of juveniles in various crimes against women," the report said.
It said the alleged involvement of a juvenile in the December 16 Delhi gangrape is a case in point which requires a serious debate on the remedial measures that need to be initiated by various stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies.