Flawed Justice

13205By Purnima Mohindra

The debate over the punishment handed over to minors aged below 18 years rages again. Nirbhaya’s rape accused gets away with a 3 –year confinement in a reformatory home. If a juvenile commits a crime like an adult why not give him punishment like an adult? In Nirbhaya’s case it is said that the juvenile was violent even in the juvenile home and attacked other inmates with a blade. Sentencing the accused for just three years is akin to acquitting him. The mental and intellectual level of minor offenders must be considered while fixing their punishment. Had he been 28 the day he committed the crime, he would probably be facing gallows like the five others. But unfortunately he is protected by special laws; laws which are so outdated that they fail to recognize between a petty criminal and rapist murderer.

But it is a hard core fact that with the exposure to modern day technological advancements, children are losing their innocence at a very early age and hence the laws need to be revamped. There are demands that minors involved in heinous offences like rape and murder should be tried in regular courts. If not, then at least juvenile board’s verdict for such brutal crimes should be stringent. A mild punishment would only send a wrong message to misguided youth. The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry has started the process of revamping the existing Juvenile Justice Act 2000 and bring in a new law with tougher provisions. Many NGO’s are also joining hands with WCD to help the government have a comprehensive new law with tougher provisions for minors involved in brutal crimes.

If they can commit such’ serious’ crimes, they surely can also handle ‘serious’ punishments.


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