Terming the Juvenile Justice Act as a “total failure”, the Justice Verma panel on Wednesday said in the absence of requisite infrastructure and the right environment to reform delinquents in juvenile homes, reducing the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 won’t serve any purpose.
“Our jails do not have reformatory and rehabilitation policies… We, therefore, breed more criminals including juveniles in our prisons and reformatory system by ghettoing them in juvenile homes,” the report said.
Bitterly critical of the abysmal functioning of juvenile homes, Justice Verma said, “They are being run in a most pathetic way and those who run the homes are complicit in the happening of worst kind of things that should not happen”.
To drive home the point, the panel in its report included the testimony of a juvenile who was allegedly beaten up by the authorities after he had complained about the abysmal condition at the home he was staying.
Justifying its recommendation of not reducing the age, the panel said if a 16-year-old is sent to life imprisonment he would be released in the mid-30s. “There is little assurance that the convict will emerge a reformed person who will not commit the same crime” the report said.