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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Young Criminals of India...

In Mumbai, a 16-year-old boy, together with his childhood friend, suffocates and kills his grandmother in order to get their hands on the money and gold  kept in their household, worth about Rs. 5.14 lakhs.

In Solapur of Maharashtra, a teenage construction worker rapes a 13-month-old baby.

In the Dahar village of the Panipat district, a young 14-year-old boy of Class VII, lures a 4-year-old girl to his house and rapes her. 

What happened to these juvenile delinquents of India after their conviction? Were they sent to correctional rehabs for character reform and psychiatric treatments? Were they reprimanded and punished rightfully? 

The answer is simply, NO!

Clearly, there needs to be a reform in the system and laws governing the conviction of juvenile delinquents in India. 

So why all of a sudden are we talking about juvenile delinquency in India?  Simply because the number of crimes committed by people as young as 16 to 18 years old have been increasing for the past few years.

There is also this false notion of blaming the society for turning such wonderful, innocent children into hardened criminals! Well, guess what? Only less than 10% of the total number of juvenile criminals are homeless and lack parental guidance. The rest? They are normal students/young workers like everybody else, who have families and friends. The case examples I gave in the beginning of this post prove this point. 

So what is the need for a reform now? At the moment, a person below 18 years of age is considered a minor. Therefore, if a person under 18 commits a crime, he/she can go scot free, without spending any jail term. They will be sent to correctional centres for rehabilitation and any psychiatric attention needed. 

This is what will happen to the juvenile in Nirbhaya's case as well. Sources say that this minor is the person who has committed the most heinous acts to the 23-year-old girl. So even if the 5 accused are sentenced to death, this 6th accused may only get 3-years of rehab! 

So is it time to change the law and make the age of criminal responsibility, 16? Or should the current system be further improved and sustained to ensure that juvenile delinquents get the maximum attention they need, so as to return to society, fully reformed? Or is it time to impose more severe punishment for juvenile delinquents, so that it would serve to be an effective deterrent?

In my opinion, I believe that 16-year-olds are capable of making their own decisions. In today's world, a 16-year-old knows as much as a 21-year-old (probably!) of yesterday's world! So it is definitely time to change the law. I hope that the Indian government takes appropriate steps to bring about this change of law. 

Easier said than done!


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