Who is a juvenile? Is he young enough in age to not be able to distinguish between the good and the evil? If he smokes, drinks or has drugs, does he not have the maturity to understand, these are bad habits? Finally, if the ‘man’ handles a girl, does he not know it is wrong?
I am sure if the so-called juvenile comes home after a smoke or a drink, he would be scared to come in front of his parents. Is it because he fears his breath would reveal the facts? If so, does he commit rape under the camouflage of not getting caught, if not reported by the victim or her guardians?
I say this because my son was a juvenile a couple of years ago and I am sure, he knew what was right and wrong.
There is a vast difference between the juvenile of the 20th century and that of the present day. Even if we argue that the parental upbringing has not been good enough, he has access to social media which teaches him much more than his school or home. How do we then argue that the law should be lenient towards the juveniles? Would it not be a fillip for juveniles to commit mistakes covertly or rather overtly?
Or can we argue that juveniles who commit rape are from the less-educated class, who do not have a proper education, a proper understanding of goodness and badness and who have no idea and access to the social media?
Now, what does the juvenile say in the Indian context?
Modi Cabinet approves amendments to Juvenile Justice Act
IndiaToday.in New Delhi, August 6, 2014 | UPDATED 10:35 IST
The changes in the law come against the backdrop of outrage over the conviction of a minor in the Delhi gangrape case of December 16, 2012.The Union Cabinet on Wednesday decided to amend Juvenile Justice Act that will empower Juvenile Justice Board to decide on whether a juvenile above 16 years involved in heinous crimes such as rape is to be sent to an observation home or tried in a regular court.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha last week that the move to amend the act was aimed to act as a deterrent for child offenders committing such crimes and will also protect the rights of the victim.
The sources said the other amendments in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, including bringing in more clarity in the role and procedures of statutory structures such as Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards and strengthening punitive measures for offenses committed against children.
New offenses such as corporal punishment, ragging and using a child for vending, peddling, carrying, supplying or smuggling any intoxicating liquor, narcotic drug or psychotropic substance and streamlining and strengthening measures for adoption, including providing statutory status to the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) have also been added, they said.
The amendment will pave the way for 16 to 18-year-olds to be treated as adults when involved in heinous crimes.
The changes in the law come against the backdrop of outrage over the conviction of a minor in the Delhi gangrape case of December 16, 2012.
He was tried in a juvenile court last year and sentenced to three years in a reform home.
His lighter punishment had triggered a debate on punishment for juveniles convicted of heinous crimes.
But in spite of this latest amendment, juvenile justice would always be a topic of endless debate.
But my take on the issue is that someone who commits rape, very well knows the implications, whether he be juvenile or adult.
Note: The writer is an engineer by profession with a strong presence on social media, working online for the cause of Human Rights, an online volunteer for Amnesty International and CRY and various other national and international organizations and having a passion for writing on social issues.