The Centre is planning a comprehensive new law for juveniles, which will ensure tougher punishment for delinquents involved in heinous crimes such as rape.
The move is significant in the light of outrage following the December 16 gang rape in Delhi. One of the accused, considered the most brutal of the six, is a juvenile and may escape harsh punishment.
The new law is likely to ensure a juvenile rapist does not get away easily, and can be kept in rehabilitation for longer than his term if the need arises. Currently, a juvenile, if convicted, spends a maximum of three years in a juvenile home, after which he is released.
The women and child development ministry had earlier proposed amending the existing juvenile justice act, 2000. But
the government decided it would be better to have a new bill after the ministry proposed 250 amendments to the existing act. The ministry is considering including a provision of differentiated treatment for juveniles accused in heinous sexual assault crimes.
“We are waiting for the Justice JS Verma committee report, which is reviewing possible amendments of the criminal law for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals in rape cases,” said an official. The committee was set up in December after the Delhi gang rape.
The new law would also address other issues that the current juvenile justice law ignores. For example, it would make it a crime for teachers to beat up students, with punishment between one and seven years in prison. It also proposes to make forcing children into begging an offence. All orphanages and childcare homes would also have to get registered, failing which they would be taken over by the government.