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The two juveniles named in the two Shakti Mill gangrape cases last year and sent to the Nashik Borstal school for three years on Tuesday will be able to pursue government-certified courses and also appear for examinations from the Industrial Training Institute (ITI), say experts and criminologists.
According to experts, the Borstal schools were originally meant for young offenders aged between 16 and 21 years and grew out of a reform movement in England. The Bombay Borstal Schools Act, 1929, states young offenders, not necessarily juveniles, be sent to Borstal schools which have a staunch reformatory approach.
Vijay Raghavan, professor and chairperson of the Centre for Criminology and Justice at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences said the objective of these schools is to retrain and rehabilitate youth offenders. These institutions have posts of teachers and vocational training instructors to impart education and vocational training to the convicts.
Experts said Borstal schools are the only institution under the prison department which continue to be under- used. “The Nashik Borstal School, which has a capacity to house about 100 convicts, has 25 to 30 inmates on an average, primarily because the courts pass few orders committing young offenders to the Borstal school,” said Raghavan.
Defense lawyer for the juveniles Dayanand Desai said, “The Borstal school has tight police security. The juveniles can choose to train in various courses including carpentry, welding and electrical work. The school also has proper counselling facilities that are necessary for reform.”
YP Singh, former IPS officer and now a high court lawyer, said, “The aim of these schools is reform training and training in confinement to ensure those found to be in conflict with law come out of the school as reformed individuals by the end of their term.”