The government averted a faux pas on the process of passing the juvenile justice bill, discovering an alleged mismatch between women and child welfare minister Maneka Gandhi’s notice sent to the Lok Sabha secretariat and the draft cleared by the Union cabinet.
A notice is mandatory to enlist a proposed legislation in the business of the House.
“Had the notice been accepted and the matter taken up, the Lok Sabha would have perhaps passed a law that is not in accordance with the draft approved by the Union cabinet,” an official said.
The amended Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill allows suspects in the 16-18 age group to be put on trial like adults for rape and murder, a pending demand since the December 2012 gang-rape in Delhi where a teenager was among the accused.
The Union cabinet, which cleared the amendments last week, had said “that an offence committed with a childlike mind should be made appealable in an appropriate court and a provision to that effect be inserted in the bill”.
Gandhi’s notice to the Lok Sabha secretary general, formally seeking permission to take up the amendments on the floor of the House, did not mention “childlike mind” in one of the provisions.
Instead, it said in section 38 of the act, the government proposes to insert after line 29: “An appeal shall lie against an order of the board (Juvenile Justice Board) passed after making the preliminary assessment into a heinous offence under section 16 of the Act, before the Court of Sessions and the court may, while hearing the appeal take assistance of experienced psychologists and medical specialists.”
The ministries of law and the parliamentary affairs raised objections to this omission, sources said.
“Since the provision for the power to appeal had already been factored in the bill, it was thought that there is no need for inserting the specific childlike mind clause again in the particular section,” said a senior official in the women and child welfare ministry.
The law ministry has been asked to draft a fresh notice after Gandhi, along with other senior ministers, decided to withdraw the one sent to the Lok Sabha secretariat.