The police in Maharashtra apprehended 7,228 juveniles under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and special and local laws (SLL) in 2014, fewer than in 2013, when 8,012 were apprehended. Only Madhya Pradesh registered more cases (7,607) than Maharashtra in 2014, according to a report by the National Crime Records Bureau. Officials said the number of juveniles involved in serious crimes was worrying. Of the 7,228, 174 were apprehended for murder, 226 for rape, 397 for robbery and 90 for dacoity.
Another 281 juveniles were apprehended under SLL in 2014, 15 under the Arms Act, 22 under the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, another 22 under the Gambling Act, and 41 under the Prohibition Act. Out of the 7,228 juveniles, 486 were illiterate, 2,556 had primary education, 3,589 had some education below SSC/HSC, while 597 had studied beyond SSC/HSC. While 6,525 lived with their parents, 546 lived with guardians and 157 were homeless.
Though union cabinet had in 2014 recommended treating minors older than 16 years as adults if charged with serious crimes such as rape, the law is yet to be amended to ensure this.
Across India, 300 boys and girls aged between 12 and 16 were held for murder and 339 for robbery, while 633 boys aged between 12 and 16 were held for rape.
YP Singh, a former IPS officer turned advocate, said only preventive action was the only way to keep juvenile crime in check. He said most crimes in which minors are apprehended also include accomplices who are over 18, and that these accomplices need to be arrested first.
He added, “Remand homes, where juveniles are sent, are poorly run and in many cases turn them into hardened criminals.” Singh said there was a need to involve voluntary organisations to deal with juveniles involved in crimes, with proper guidelines from the government.