Govt unlikely to reduce upper age limit for juveniles

New Delhi, Jan. 15 -- The Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry is unlikely to reduce the upper age limit for juvenile from 18 to 16 years despite the growing clamour for bringing it down following the brutal Delhi gangrape, where one of the main accused is a little over 17 years. Under the law, a juvenile, if convicted, is treated leniently as compared to an adult criminal who invites harsher punishment for the same offence.

This was decided by the ministry on Monday following a meeting with members of the committee - set up to review the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act- that discussed the proposed amendments to the Act.

"There was unanimity that the age of juvenile would remain at 18 years. It won't be bought down to 16. On other changes being proposed in the JJ Act, it was decided to have some more consultations with child rights groups and stakeholders," WCD minister Krishna Tirath told HT.

"There is a complete consensus amongst the representatives of child rights, child protection and juvenile justice groups - who are the members of the panel- for keeping the age limit for juvenile unchanged. The answer does not lie in reducing the age but the affective implementation of various provisions of the JJ Act," said Amod Kanth, a panel member.

On the need to have differential treatment for juveniles involved in heinous sexual assault crimes, the members said there are multiple provisions in the existing Act to deal with such cases. "The juvenile can be sent to special remand home for a longer period, he said.

Tirath earlier said the JJ Act will be amended to treat such criminals as adults for the purposes of punishment. No consensus could be reached on this issue at the meeting.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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