The Delhi gang rape case does not warrant or justify a drastic change in law, said a section of the legal fraternity on the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, which will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
But another section of lawyers were of the opinion that there was a need for a stricter law to try serious and heinous juvenile offences.
“It is a very delicate issue. Only for a microscopic minority of ages 16 to 18, who indulge in criminal activities, the fate of millions of children will be decided,” said Majeed Memon, advocate and a Rajya Sabha MP.
“The view to bring down the age from 18 to 16 to be governed under general penal laws should be further examined by experts referring it to the select committee. The Delhi gang rape does not warrant or justify such a drastic change in the law,” said Memon.
Advocate Maharukh Adenwalla, who works for child welfare said, “According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in the year 2012 to 2013 out of the 1.2% of crimes committed by juveniles, 9% was murder and rape.”
The bill also includes a clause where juveniles could be tried as adults. It defines juvenile crime into three categories, which are petty, serious and heinous.
Senior counsel Mahesh Jethamalani said, “It requires careful consideration. Just because of the Delhi gang rape, I am not sure the change in the law is required. If the experts feel the change is not needed, I will support them.”
But advocate Ujjwal Nikam, special public prosecutor for the Shakti Mills gang rape said, “It is a good amendment. If a 16-year-old boy is tried for a heinous crime what needs to be looked at is whether the crime was planned. If a conspiracy is discovered, he should be tried under the Indian Penal Code.”