Govt to amend...

Hindustan Times (Patna) - - NA­TION -

“In­stead of low­er­ing the age, we want to ad­dress this is­sue by mak­ing the law tough and seek ex­emp­tion for ju­ve­niles charged with heinous crimes such as rape to be treated as adults,” Ti­rath said.

Any change in the law that will re­sult in ju­ve­niles be­ing treated as adults in rare cases will have no bear­ing on the Delhi gang rape case. But Ti­rath said her depart­ment would sug­gest the most se­vere pu­n­ish­ment.

"Our min­istry is of the view that it is a rarest of rare crime and hence all ... ac­cused in­clud­ing the mi­nor should be awarded death penalty."

The law cov­er­ing ju­ve­niles is in fo­cus be­cause of the at­tack on a 23-year-old woman by six men in Delhi on De­cem­ber 16. The at­tack was so sav­age that the woman had to have her in­testines re­moved. Po­lice have said that the ju­ve­nile was the most bru­tal of the at­tack­ers. He may have to un­dergo a bone os­si­fi­ca­tion test to deter­mine his ex­act age.

At the meet­ing of chief sec­re­taries and state po­lice chiefs con­vened by the Cen­tre, there was a clam­our to amend the JJ Act to lower the age of ju­ve­nile to 16 years from the ex­ist­ing 18 years. The Congress party added its voice to the de­mands, say­ing that there was a need to re-look at the JJ Act in light of the Delhi gang rape.

Re­duc­ing the age has how­ever met with fierce op­po­si­tion from child rights groups and ac­tivists. In fact, it was on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the WCD min­istry that a child was de­fined as a per­son un­der 18 years and it was made uni­form in all leg­is­la­tions in­clud­ing the JJ Act, Pro­tec­tion of Chil­dren from Sex­ual Of­fences Bill and the draft Crim­i­nal Amend­ment Bill.

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