Union Cabinet gives nod to Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014 to amend previous Act
With a view to amend the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2000, the Union cabinet approved the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014. The bill is expected to be introduced in the Monsoon session of Parliament.
The bill will place minors above the age of 16, accused of heinous crimes like rape and murder, in the adults’ category. The current JJ Act, 2000 treats any person below the age of 18 as juvenile. With the new Bill, Juvenile Justice Board will be empowered to decide whether a minor would be tried in a regular court or sent to a correctional centre. However, as per the provision of the bill, if a minor is sent to regular court, he would not be awarded life or death sentence if found guilty. At present, the maximum punishment under the JJ Act is 3 years confinement at correctional centres.
The amendment in the current law comes after it has been observed that minors were involved in many incidences of rapes reported over the last two years.
As per the Bill:
- The bill has the provision of up to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment, Rs 5 lakh fine or both for militant groups who recruit child soldiers or use children for any purpose.
- The term ‘corporal punishment’ will include physical and verbal abuse.
- Stringent punishment for those who subject a child to corporal punishment causing hurt and emotional distress to the child.
- Offenders to be punished with jail term of up to 6 months on first conviction. Depending on the seriousness of physical injury and mental trauma of the child, the offender could be punished with 3 to 5 years in jail and up to Rs 1 lakh fine.
- In case the wrongdoer is an employee of an institution dealing with children, he could be dismissed from service for repeat offender. Even the management of such institution can be sentenced to up to 3 year jail and Rs 1 lakh fine for non-compliance or non-cooperation in any investigation.
Ragging within or outside the institution will be dealt with strictly with the provision of punishing the offender with a sentence up to 3 years in jail and fined up to Rs 1 lakh. An accomplice or anyone propagating ragging can also be punished with imprisonment. If India enacts the Bill it will join 40 other countries where corporal punishment is a penal offence.