The women and child development (WCD) ministry is open to lowering the age of juveniles to 16 years, from the current ceiling of 18 years, in heinous sexual assault cases.
WCD minister Krishna Tirath raised the issue of the juvenile age-limit in a cabinet meet on Friday, which cleared stricter anti-rape provisions that were welcomed by the family of the Delhi gang rape victim.
They conveyed the same sentiment to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi who met them on Saturday.
Rahul told victim’s two brothers to contact him if they faced problems while the Congress chief heard their parents narrate their struggle to educate their children.
Friday’s cabinet meet had created provisions for imposing the death penalty if the victim suffers permanent physical or mental damage.
Tirath also spoke on the possibility of providing harsher punishment to juveniles over 16 if they are found to be involved in such cases.
However, the cabinet decided to refrain from rushing the matter. Union ministers P Chidambaram and Veerappa Moily reportedly said discussions in this regard were underway.
It was also pointed out that the law ministry had received several petitions on lowering the age of juveniles to 16 years in heinous rape cases.
A review panel formed by the WCD ministry is mulling over amendments.
Some ministers reportedly said the government should wait for the parliamentary standing panel to give its detailed view on the Verma panel report.