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Change in Juvenile Law Reformative or punitive?

While Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi, deserves appreciation from all sections of the people to her concerns to ending sexual violence, one needs to ponder upon is whether the lowering down of the age of Juvenile from 18 to 16 will serve or not. The proposal made by the ministers which was approved by the Union cabinet yesterday says that if a juvenile inbetween 16 to 18 years of age committed some heinous crime like rape or murder he will not get blanket of protection under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2007. Which means that in such a circumstances the boy have to be tried in a regular court. In the present law, if a juvenile below the age of 18 years is found guilty, he is tried by the juvenile justice board and if convicted, he is sent to a juvenile home for a period of 3 years for correction.The proposal was reported to have been made base on the statistic of crime committed by Juvenile. But, will this serves the purpose which in reality is lower down the crime against women?It may be worth recalling that The Justice J.S.Verma Committee that was set up in the wake of Delhi gang-rape did consider the question of lowering the age, but ultimately rejected it as not viable. The report said, “We did consider, however, a general lowering of the juvenile age. The research and the statistics in this area, as well as our own experience shows that it was not viable. Even women’s organisations, most of them were of the view that it was not desirable. And you see you can’t make a generalisation”.The brutalities that accompanied the 2012 Delhi gang-rape rape shakes the conscious of the nation but does it warrants changing a law that was enacted on the strength of expert opinion the world over? Shouldn’t Gandhi worry about the general state of lawlessness into which the country seems to be sliding into? Lawlessness egged on by the law-makers themselves?

William Gurumayum

William Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since 2013. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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