The ‘Nirbhaya’ case and Juvenile Justice: Juxtapositioned Views
- December 21, 2015
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Uncategorized
Three years after the Nirbhaya case, involving the horrific gangrape in Delhi, the juvenile convict in the case is set to be released from the special home where he had been kept as part of detention, under the law for juvenile offenders.The Juvenile Justice Board had declined to try the juvenile as an adult whose age was determined to be a little over 17 years on the date of the crime. He was convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to 3 years in a reform facility as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (“the Juvenile Justice Act”).
This has sent ripples through the nation once again, with most calling it a travesty of justice while some are batting for the fact that law had been upheld and the juvenile would get a ‘second chance’ at life.Many reasons have been advanced for the crime that the juvenile committed- such as his gory past, his exploitation on the streets, peer pressure etc. But this psychoanalysis will not change what was done and the brutality of it. Further, it makes one wonder- should any kind of emotional baggage be a justification to commit such atrocities? All said and done, a majority of people think that 3 years in a reformation home are simply not enough punishment, considering the crime that was committed.
On the other hand, some NGOs who have been arguing for ‘reformative’ rather than ‘retributive’ justice, believe that by giving juvenile offenders a second chance at leading a ‘normal’ life and by reintegrating them with society, they will be prevented from falling into a loop of crime and punishment. Further, in this particular case, some argue that there is not sufficient evidence to prove that the juvenile was, in fact, the most brutal of all the accused.
These views have not changed much over the years. But what has definitely changed is that there has been a rise in the number of reported cases involving juvenile offenders between 2012 and 2014, as per data from the National Crime Records Bureau. Another thing that has changed is that the Juvenile Justice Act is sought to be amended through a Bill that has already been passed by the Lok Sabha but still has to see the light of day, because what has not changed is the apathy to discuss issues of public importance in the Parliament.We continue to witness more slogans and worthless propaganda.It is a pity that the ‘law’ is in the pipeline but the Upper House has still not passed it. The amendment will, among other changes, allow juveniles aged between 16 and 18 years of age to be tried in adult courts if they are found to commit heinous crimes.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) had been filed by BJP leader, Subramanian Swamy to extend the stay of the juvenile in the institution since there were doubts as to whether he had been reformed and was no longer a threat to society as well as some Intelligence Bureau reports suggesting that he had been ‘radicalised’. The Delhi High Court declined to stay his release for lack of a law to extend such detention. However, it has noted that the law allows for post-release monitoring and rehabilitation of the offender. It is hoped that he will be kept under watch for the next 2 years. Further, the Court has asked the Centre and the Department of Women and Child Development to file responses on the issues raised in the PIL, including how the level of reformation of an offender during his stay in the special homes may be assessed, because it is an issue of wide public interest. The latest development is that the Delhi Commission for Women has filed a plea before the Supreme Court (SC) to detain the juvenile, which the SC has agreed to hear on December 21 but has refused to stay the release of the juvenile on December 20. The plea argues that the convict remains a threat to society and his own life may be in danger too in his village.
Whichever way we may choose to look at it, one thing cannot be denied- it is time for laws on juvenile offenders to be revamped.