Cabinet approves amendment to juvenile justice bill

New Delhi: The union cabinet on Wednesday approved amendment to the Juvenile Justice Bill to provide that if a heinous crime is committed by a person in the 16-18 age group, it will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult’.

“The union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved introduction of Amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014. The amendments to the draft bill strike a fine balance between the demands of the stakeholders asking for continued protection of rights of juveniles and the popular demand of citizens in the light of increasing incidence of heinous crimes by young boys,” an official release said.

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The bill was introduced by the ministry of women and child development in the Lok Sabha in August last year.

The release said the amended version of the bill was the result of an elaborate consultative process undertaken by the ministry.

“The new proposed Act provides that in case a heinous crime has been committed by a person in the age group of 16-18 years it will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult’,” the release said.

“Since this assessment will take place by the board which will have psychologists and social experts, it will ensure that the rights of the juvenile are duly protected if he has committed the crime as a child. The trial of the case will accordingly take place as a juvenile or as an adult on the basis of this assessment,” the release added.

It said that the unique instrument of “a two-stage assessment/trial brings about a balance that is sensitive to the rights of the child, protective of his legitimate interests and yet conscious of the need to deter crimes, especially brutal crimes against women”.

The proposed amendment entails introduction of a new provision that disallows the protection from disqualification in cases where a juvenile is tried and convicted under the adult system.