New Delhi: Noting that the issue of lowering age of juveniles involved in heinous crimes from 18 years to 16 years has not been understood in proper perspective, the Government on Friday said there has been no change in its stand and position on the Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014.
"There has been no change in Government's stand and position on the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 as introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 12, 2014.
"It appears that the issue of reduction of age of juveniles from 18 years to 16 years has not been understood in proper perspective and therefore these media reports have come," a statement issued by the Ministry of Child and Women Development said.
Amid media reports attacking the government for changing its stand on the issue of lowering age of juveniles, it said the Ministry has proposed that children in the age group of 16-18 years, who commit heinous offences such as rape, murder and grievous hurt, be tried through a different process and procedure.
The Juvenile Justice Board will conduct a preliminary inquiry in such cases, which will look at the mental and physical capacity of the child to commit the offence, his ability to understand the consequences of the offence and the circumstances under which the offence was committed.
After conducting the preliminary inquiry, the Board may transfer the case to a Children's Court, which is a court of session for speedy trial of such cases.
"During and after the trial such children will be placed in a 'place of safety' till they attain the age of 21 years. The Children's Court will ensure that there is periodic follow-up of the child every year by the probation officer or the District Child Protection Unit or a social worker to evaluate his progress.
"Once the child reaches the age of 21 and is yet to complete his term, the Children's Court after conducting an assessment based on progress reports, can either release the child under probation or send the child to an adult jail for completing his remaining term," the statement said.
As the juvenile justice system is based on the principle of restorative justice, such children during their stay in a 'place of safety' will be provided with reformative measures such as education, health, nutrition, de-addiction, treatment of diseases, vocational training, skill development, life skill education and counselling.
Therefore, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, among other things related to adoption and foster care, proposes to create a framework where children in the age group of 16-18 years, who commit heinous crimes, could also be tried under the adult justice system if the circumstances warrant so.