The Union cabinet is likely to clear the draft Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 this week.
The bill proposes to treat juvenile older than 16 years as adults if involved in heinous crimes such as rape and murder.
Such convicted juveniles may face a jail term but will not be awarded life sentence or death penalty. According to the bill being piloted by the women and child development (WCD) ministry, the onus would be on the Juvenile Justice (JJ) board to decide whether cases where a juvenile is involved in a heinous crime would be tried under the provisions of the JJ Act or normal trial court.
Currently, if an accused person is found to be a juvenile (under 18 year) he is tried by the JJ Board and, if convicted, is sent to a juvenile home for a period of three years.
The government has fast tracked clearance of the bill — which was sent for inter ministerial consultations only last week — in the backdrop of perceived lack of business in the ongoing Parliament session.
The WCD ministry is keen to introduce the juvenile justice bill in the ongoing Parliament session which ends on August 14.
The bill also makes corporal punishment and ragging criminal offences under law. The existing juvenile justice Act did not cover these two offences.
While corporal punishment would invite a maximum jail term of three years and dismissal from service, ragging would invite up to three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 10,000.
Ragging by an institution’s staff would put them at the risk of dismissal and a bar on working with children in the future.