May,7,2015: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the controversial Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill, which seeks to allow children in the 16-18 age group to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes.
The bill, moved on Wednesday, is aimed at replacing the existing Juvenile Justice Act 2000. It defines and classifies offences as petty, serious and heinous, and defines differentiated processes for each category.
The bill also reinforces the principles through the introduction of a new provision that disallows the protection from disqualification in cases where a juvenile is tried and convicted under the adult system.
In August 2014, Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had introduced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014, which was later referred to a standing committee that recommended keeping the juvenile age at 18 years.
On Wednesday, during the debate on the bill, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said: "A majority of children in conflict with law come from illiterate and poor families. These are the ones you are trying to punish instead of giving them education."
He claimed that the entire concept of prevention of presumption of innocence has been done away by with.
Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said the police team which may investigate a crime must include women. "We should also have child psychiatrists in the juvenile justice boards," she said.
Biju Janata Dal's Tathagat Satpathy said care and protection should be of prime importance and not retribution which one should look at. "What is it that is causing the child to adopt a path of criminality, we should explore that," he said adding that implementation of the law has been the biggest problem.
The move to amend the Juvenile Justice Act had begun immediately after the December 16, 2012 gangrape of a 23-year-old medical intern in a moving bus in New Delhi in which one of the six culprits was a juvenile.