Ahead of the release of the juvenile convicted in the December 2012 gang rape of a young woman in a moving bus, women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi wants a law for mandatory registration of such offenders.
In a letter to Union law minister Sadananda Gowda, Gandhi has said, “In cases where the accused are convicted for committing heinous crimes, the orders of the court may also include mandatory requirement of registration of the accused in local police station so that police can monitor their activities and keep track of their movements.”
Such an initiative by courts will ensure effective management and supervision of sex offenders and also reduce future offences leading to a sense of security among women and children, she added.
The juvenile would complete his three-year sentence in a children home on December 15, under the existing provision of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The law currently does not allow treating minor offenders accused of sexual crimes such as rape on par with adults.
Gandhi has also suggested that convicts of heinous crimes like rape should be mandated to provide their personal details to the local law enforcement agency on regular basis. “The registered sex offenders may be required to periodically appear in person to their local law enforcement agency for purposes of giving details of their personal information such as present address and place of employment,” she has written in her letter.
The minister further wrote that the duration of such monitoring may be decided by courts depending upon the severity of the offence and whether the accused is a repeat offender.
“We do not have any such law in place in India. While there is a need to have such laws, they may take some time to enact. In the meantime, a pro-active action on the part of courts may be a solution,” Gandhi’s letter states.
Gandhi had earlier said that she does not know if justice has been done in the case but the law has been followed. “The law said that the juvenile could only go to children home. He served his sentence and is now coming out. And there is nothing we can do about it until or unless he commits another crime,” she had said at a press conference.
To correct this anomaly in the law (juvenile convicted of gangrape getting released after three years) the government is pushing for amendments to the juvenile justice law that would treat minor offenders between 16 and 18 years at par with adults for committing heinous crimes like rape and murder.
The bill is currently pending in the Rajya Sabha. The law has been in the centre of a raging controversy following the brutal gang rape of a young woman by six men which included the juvenile. It was this incident that had triggered nation-wide protests and set the stage for an overhaul of India’s juvenile justice law.