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Now minors will be tried as adults in rape, murder cases

India TV News Desk August 07, 2014 11:33 IST
India TV News Desk
New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 that gives powers to the Juvenile Justice Board to decide if a juvenile above 16 years, involved in heinous crimes like rape, would be tried in an adult court.

Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi had told Parliament that the new Bill aimed to act as a deterrent for juvenile offenders committing heinous crimes and protect the victims' rights.

The new Bill comes in the backdrop of outrage after a minor convicted in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case was handed a three-year term in a reform home.

The Cabinet has approved the amendment to the act so that if the Juvenile Justice Board approves, a suspect in the 16-18 age group can be tried as an adult and sent to a regular jail.

However, such accused cannot be given death sentence or life imprisonment under any circumstance.

The government's decision comes amidst data which suggests a spurt in crimes by juveniles. Crimes committed by juveniles increased by 13 per cent between 2012 and 2013 going from 27,936 in 2012 to 31,725 cases in 2013.

The highest increase was seen in crimes against women. There was a whopping 132.3 per cent rise cases of assault on women, 70.5 per cent increase in cases of insult to the modesty of women and 60 per cent increase in cases of rape.

Madhya Pradesh tops the list of rapes committed by juveniles, followed by Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Delhi saw 137 cases.

But in spite of these statistics, activists are enraged over the decision to treat 16-year-olds as adults.

The test for the government now is to get the amended Bill approved in Parliament. It remains to be seen whether the Congress-led UPA, whose woman and child development minister had herself proposed lowering age of juveniles will now support the bill.