The government on Wednesday said there is no plan to reduce the age limit of juveniles from 18 to 16 years. This follows demands for a change in the existing juvenile law after the December 16 Delhi gang rape case, in which one of the accused is a minor and will escape harsh punishment.
Women and child development minister Krishna Tirath informed the Rajya Sabha that the government did not consider it appropriate to change the existing law on the basis of a single case. She said her ministry had rejected the suggestion to bring the age down, which was made in a meeting of chief secretaries and state police chiefs on January 4.
“Children account for 42% of the country’s population... On the basis of that one case (the Delhi gang rape), we can’t justify a decision that will affect 44 crore children,” Tirath said. “It would be a grave injustice if we start handing over children committing petty crimes due to poverty and hunger to the police.”
Following the outrage over the gang rape, the government had indicated it may exclude those who committed heinous crimes and were above 15 years from being covered under the juvenile law. Tirath’s stand, which is similar to the one endorsed by the Justice JS Verma committee, puts that suggestion to rest.