New Delhi: The government on Thursday made it clear that it is not in favour of reducing juvenile age from 18 to 16 years but is proposing changes in processes related to treatment of heinous offences committed by those in 16 to 18 age group.
In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi said that there have been demands from many quarters to review the system and framework of juvenile justice.
"The Ministry is not in favour of reducing the juvenile age from 18 to 16 years," she said.
Gandhi, however, said that the Ministry is proposing modifications in processes which are followed while dealing with heinous offences committed by children in 16 to 18 age group.
"In such cases, the Juvenile Justice Board may transfer the proceedings to a children's court, which is a Court of Sessions," the Minister said.
She said that in coming to a decision, the court would be assisted by able psychologists, psycho social workers and experts.
"The children's court will conduct an assessment of the physical and mental status capacity of the child to commit such offence and the circumstances in which the offence was committed," Gandhi said.
During the process of inquiry, trial and after trial, the child will be kept in a place of safety and not in a jail, she said.
"Under no circumstances the sentence passed by a court be life imprisonment or death," the Minister said.
Replying to another question, Gandhi said that a study report of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) indicates that 40 to 70 per cent of street children in different Indian cities are vulnerable to some type of substance abuse.