Wednesday, January 30, 2013

the inhuman juvenile

We have all been shocked and dismayed to learn the fact that the perpetrator of the most inhuman cruelty in the Nirbhaya case is a juvenile, ie, someone younger than 18 years. His case will be placed not before the criminal court but the Juvenile Justice Board, and as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, the maximum period of detention to which he can be sentenced is 3 years. For most juveniles, the place of detention is a special home except when the crime is of so serious a nature that the Juvenile Board orders the State government to make special arrangements for his protective custody. The law does not permit a harsher sentence and explicitly prohibits life imprisonment and death sentence. This has appalled the ordinary citizen who had expected the perpetrator of such a barbaric act to be put behind bars for the rest of his life, at the very least. 

Trial as an adult for serious offences

The Justice Verma Committee has declined the suggestion that the upper limit for defining a juvenile be lowered from the current 18 years. Even if we do not lower the limit, we can look at the other alternatives for treating cases where the juvenile has committed as horrendous a crime as in the Nirbhaya case.  There are countries where the law provides for a juvenile to be tried as an adult, and to be sentenced to imprisonment in an adult prison , depending upon the seriousness of the crime and past criminal activity. It is time that we demanded such a provision ----a statutory provision that a juvenile offender be tried as an adult, in a criminal court, for certain types of criminal conduct. 

Disqualification under ROPA

Another worrisome provision of the Juvenile Justice Act is that the conviction of a juvenile for any crime whatsoever shall not be a disqualification under the Representation of People Act. This means that, hypothetically speaking, the perpetrator of the barbarous acts that have led to Nirbhaya's death could some day contest elections, and even worse, the voters would not even be aware of his crime because the Juvenile Justice Act requires that all the records relevant to a juvenile's conviction shall be removed once the appeal period has expired. There is a need to review this provision of the law, and to provide that juveniles who are convicted of serious crimes face the repercussion of getting disqualified under the Representation of People Act.


  1. Rape is no juvenile act. Let the law be not juvenile either.

  2. The ROPA loophole is alarming! Very well pointed out, i doubt many people are aware of this.