A vigorous online campaign has been launched to protest against the move to reduce the age of juveniles from 18 to 16. Several child right organisations have created a micro site called ‘No prison for children’ because if this move gets the approval of Parliament it will put thousands of juveniles under constant threat of a term in jail as against the special privileges given to them under the Juvenile Justice Act at present.
Ever since the winter session of parliament began child right activists are in a state of panic. If they are scared of any legislation in recent times it is the Bill to amend the Juvenile Justice Act 2014 which has been introduced in Parliament.
Even though the Bill is a much improved version of the original J J Act 2000 the first legislation to protect the rights of Children.It provides for separate Juvenile courts to try children as against the normal civil courts meant for adults.This is to grant them special relief because of their age and sensitivity and these sure guaranteed under international rules and U N rules and conventions.
The move to bring down the age of juveniles has been in the air for quite some time given the rise in heinous crimes committed by juveniles in the country.This became a national cause after the December 2012 brutal gang rape and assault of a para medical student in the capital. The UPA government resisted the temptation to fall into the popular trap.
It got invaluable support from the Justice Verma committee and organisations like Prayas which fought the battles for children rights in courts.Prayas General Secretary, Amod Kanth personally argued the case for maintaining the status quo against legal luminaries like Subramaniam Swamy who vigorously argued for reducing the age of juveniles because one of the members of the bang that assaulted the girl was a minor. Under the juvenile justice law he can only be tried in juvenile court and the maximum punishment he can be awarded is three years.
However the new minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi has once again raised the fears by saying that she would reconsider the opinion of the previous government.
Kajol Menon, co- founder of Leher a child rights organisation who along with some other groups has launched this new campaign says, “We are not living in the age of ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We have to fight for saving the majority of juveniles for the mistakes of minuscule criminals.“
She has asked people in general to do the following to prevent this draconian legislation from becoming a law.
1.Visit the microsite www.noprisonforchildren.com for information on the issue and most importantly Sign the petition and Tweet the PMO
2.Share the creative + website via any or all of your social media platforms with the hashtag #NoPrisonForChildren.
3.Tweet to the PM with your own thoughts + the hashtag #NoPrisonForChildren
4.Follow the campaign on twitter (Juvenile Justice @nochildinprison#NoPrisonForChildren), and retweet content.
5.Tag people you think might be on the same wavelength!
Join the campaign and save children who constitute 42 per cent of the total population of the county. Do remember juveniles offenders called ‘Children in conflict with law’ now constitute only one percent of the total crime offences committed in the country. Don’t increase their numbers by subjecting all of them to the crude and callous treatment meted out to hardened adult criminals who act either out of revenge or through pre-meditated plans unlike the first time offenders.
By: Amitabh Srivastava