Contrary to public outcry for reducing the age of juveniles from 18 to 16 years, several prominent child rights activists on Monday opposed any such move, saying there was nothing wrong with the present Juvenile Justice Act, which aims at reforming juvenile offenders.
At a workshop organised by Child Rights And You (CRY), the activists said instead of branding the juveniles involved in heinous crimes as hardcore criminals, the Centre and state governments should focus on the proper implementation of the Act in letter and spirit. The Juvenile Justice Act was adequate for the care and protection of vulnerable juveniles, they emphasised.
"We have to understand the reason why a juvenile has become a violent individual and participates in heinous crimes. These children need attention and rehabilitation," said Bharti Sharma, former chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
A heinous offence committed by one juvenile should not lead to scores of other juveniles being judged in the same category and subjected to punishments meant for adult criminals, she added.
Vijay Laxmi Arora, director policy and research of CRY, said juveniles involved in extraordinary crimes, such as the one in the gang rape of December 16, should be not subjected to isolation, as it would adversely affect his psyche.
"We need multi-disciplinary measures in the rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law. We need to eliminate the anti-social approach of the child," said Arora.
Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir had on Saturday blamed the media for creating a monstrous image of the juvenile accused in the 16/12 Delhi gang rape.
"Branding the juvenile as the most violent is but a creation of the media as of now," the CJI had said in Patiala.