A dangerous game of vendetta has started at the highest level in the country to hound a juvenile even before he has come out of a reform home.
By now everyone knows that the juvenile convicted of the brutal gang- rape and physical torture of the December 16,2012 incident in Delhi will be free by next month as he completes his three years of punishment under the existing law of the country.
This juvenile was one of the five men on the DTC bus that fateful night when Jyoti,known as Nirbhaya after one news channel named her as such along with her male companion had boarded the bus.One of the convicted men committed suicide in Tihar jail under mysterious circumstances while the others are awaiting their fate in jail.
The case had created a wave of protests in the country and abroad against such crimes and finally the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 was passed in parliament to ensure stricter punishment to such criminals and against the officials who refuse to register cases of sexual assault that come to the police stations-the first point where the system of justice starts in the country.
This law was amended after the Justice Verma committee gave its comprehensive report incorporating the new definitions of the term rape and introducing the term trafficking in IPC.
However the same committee, after wide- ranging deliberations refused to bow to public opinion to lower the age of juveniles to 16 which has the sanction of the United Nations and other international conventions. Now Kejriwal wants this age to be brought down to 15 and there will be no end.
As such the juvenile found involved in the crime ( there are different opinions about his part in the crime) but even accepting the charge, he is entitled to only a three year term in a children’s reform home. The judge trying him is believed to have said off the record that there was no evidence of his involvement in the incident but he was being kept in the reform home to save his life from mobs who believe what Ram Singh, the main culprit told the police and media. Ram Singh was later found hanging in Tihar and the truth may never come out.
However under the Juvenile Justice Act as it exists today, children below 18 cannot be produced in adult courts because they are children by definition.
All reports about the behavior of this particular juvenile have been positive from the reform home where he stayed. Under the circumstances, the statement of Maneka Gandhi of State for Women and Child Development that his movements will have to be checked after he is free is a travesty of justice.
Instead of giving the young man of 20 the opportunity to reform and start life afresh living anonymously as the law demands, she seems to suggest that once a culprit always a criminal.
Maneka is also adamant that the amendment to the J J Act suggested by the cabinet committee of Modi reducing the age of juveniles to 16 becomes a law even though a parliamentary committee comprising members of both Houses has strongly recommended that there was no need to amend the law because only a very small percentage of juveniles were involved in heinous crimes in India compared to other countries.
But intolerance and trampling over the dissenting opinion has become a staple style of this government.
By Amitabh Srivastava
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