Mumbai: It is high time that the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act is amended, particularly in the light of serious offences like gang-rapes and murders. The current JJ Act of 2000 was formulated under the assumption that juveniles do not know what they are doing.
Today, the scenario has changed. So, the law should keep up with the changing times. Children now-a-days are exposed to crime and violence via media. The entertainment industry projects women as objects of pleasure. Children emulate what they see. In films, a hero comes and rescues the damsel in distress. In real life, they know there are no heroes, and hence they think they can get away easily.
Nothing prevents the country from amending the JJ Act to keep up with the changing times. India is signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN Convention was followed when the age limit for juveniles was increased from 16 to 18 years. However, there is a need to revert the age limit of juveniles to 16 years.
Criminals above 16 should be treated at par with the other accused and awarded the same quantum of punishment.
However, I feel that death penalty should not be brought in as it would make women more susceptible to death after rape. After committing rape, the accused may kill the victim to ensure that there are no witnesses.
The prosecution often relies on circumstantial evidence rather than forensic evidence. The police are not trained to collect evidence properly at the crime scene. They, at times, trample over the crime scene thus destroying crucial forensic evidence which is as important as identification parades.
A good lawyer will falsify a genuine victim’s testimony during cross examination. The forensic evidence will be conclusive in such cases as no one can negate it.
It is good to see that the police are gathering forensic evidence in the Shakti Mills gang-rape cases, besides relying on the survivors’ identification of the accused. What is required is speedy justice for the victims and not just candle marches. The amendment should be specific and it should not be left at the discretion of the judge to take a decision based on circumstances and gravity of individual offences.
DNA/ Urvi Mahajani