A Nameless Indian Speaks
Intro:The act clearly appears to be tilted towards juvenile offenders.
Recently, Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD) Maneka Gandhi favoured treating juveniles accused of heinous crimes like rape on par with adult offenders. This statement drew mixed reactions. As expected, the NGOs and child rights activists opposed Maneka Gandhi’s statement, justifying that children were not developed enough mentally and physically so to hold them responsible for the actions taken by them.
Sharing a similar view National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Kushal Singh had said that changing the law and punishment was not a solution. “Right from the beginning we have held that lowering the age of the juvenile regardless of the crime committed goes against the basic philosophy of Juvenile Justice Act.” This piece of news appeared in newspapers and Kushal Singh and activists of his ilk should be honoured for making such an exalted statement!!!
How insensitive some of these NGOs and activists could be that for their personal benefit (which is in the form of getting foreign funds) they stoop down to such a low level! The dark memories of December 16, 2012 gangrape still haunt the nation. It was this day when a young girl was gang raped and brutally killed in the national capital. Out of the five arrested and convicted for the gruesome attack, one of them, whom the investigation reports suggested to be most brutal among all, escaped death sentence because he was found to be an underage. This created a huge uproar as the most dangerous offender got away with a minor sentence.
Days are gone when juvenile crime meant stealing of a piece of bread to satisfy hunger or pick-pocketing in a bus or a local train to buy medicine. Now, it’s rape that is making the headlines and in large number of cases, the rape accused are below 18 years.
As a common man, my heart bleeds when I get to read about heinous incidents of rape, especially on minor victims by these ‘minors’. One can accept that a minor can even commit murder due to extreme negative conditions or adversities that he faces, but committing a rape is beyond imagination.
Rape or sexual molestation is not just another crime. It needs an adult mindset, even if the accused is 14 or 15 year old to unleash such a heinous act.
Former WCD minister Krishna Tirath during the previous UPA regime had proposed that juveniles above 16 years guilty of heinous crimes be treated on par with adult offenders.
The move was however opposed by various NGOs and NCPCR which stated that such a proposal was against child rights. Ever since she assumed office, Maneka Gandhi has talked about the need for an amendment in existing Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act. The Supreme Court has also pressed for a more stringent JJ Act. “You can't have a cut-off date for crime like you have for government jobs, the court said. Go by how the neurons are growing,” the Supreme Court had observed.
It’s beyond comprehension how these child rights activists forget the misery of the minor victims who are subjected to rape. Do these activists lack basic conscience or it’s their well-planned strategy to push their hidden agenda of making money under the garb of activism?
According to National Crime Record Bureau, there has been unimaginable rise in rape cases committed by the minors. Against 466 rape cases in 2003, it’s 1884 in 2013 – a 304% increase! Still, the so-called activists clamour for leniency.
Recently, a Mumbai court sent two minors convicted in the Shakti Mill gangrape case to a Nashik school for three years to learn ‘good behaviour’ like the lone juvenile convict in Delhi’s December 16 gangrape case, these two minor offenders will roam freely in society after being “reformed”.
These cases have exposed our country’s shortcomings in the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 that doesn’t permit treating minor offenders on a par with adults for trial and punishment even in henious crimes such as rape and murder. The act clearly appears to be tilted towards juvenile offenders. No one seems to be bothered about those innocent minor vicitims, who for the rest of their lives continue to live under shame, disgrace and social stigma.
Sensing the gravity of the issue, this is an appeal of a nameless faceless Indian to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring necessary amendment in the existing JJ Act. The Government must guarantee enforcement and proper implementation of an exemplary punishment, so that the offenders can’t get away under the garb of the act as a juvenile and think twice before committing rape. It’s only then that justice would be meted to minor victims. Or else, the crime graph will continue to surge.
[The opinion expressed in this column is solely that of the writer – A Nameless Indian]