New Delhi: A group of 58 NGOs and individuals working for children`s rights in the country today urged the Centre to carry out proper deliberations before deciding to repeal and re-enact the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
The coalition - ProChild Network - has offered to help the government find a solution to the problems of crimes like sexual violence by juveniles, by giving professional suggestions based on evidence and research.
The group comprises 58 NGOs including the Aangan Trust, Centre for Child and the Law, NLSIU-Bangalore, CRY, HAQ:Centre for Child Rights, Leher and Save the Children.
"We strongly condemn all sexual violence, be it by adults or juveniles... But we also condemn pitching human rights of women against human rights of children since that will not provide an answer to creating a healthy society. All we want is a dialogue with the government before a final decision in this regard is taken," said Bharti Ali, Co-Director of HAQ:Centre for Child Rights.
On June 18, the Ministry of Women and Child Development stated their intent to repeal and re-enact the Juvenile Justice Act and invited feedback from stakeholders and civil society groups on the draft Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014.
According to the ministry`s proposal, while trying the juvenile, in the age group of 16-18 years, involved in heinous crimes such as rape and murder, the Juvenile Justice Board will decide whether the juvenile should be sent to observation home or required a trial under a regular court.
"We firmly believe all human beings, especially growing children, need to be taught that there are consequences of their action and that they need to be accountable for their behaviour," a statement issued by the group said.
"However, we assert that the means for ensuring such accountability should be grounded in child and adolescent psychology, the rights of children and a deeper understanding of the circumstances that lead to such behaviour or action, be it indiscipline, anti-social or criminal behaviour," it adds.
The government move comes over a year after the role of a juvenile in the December 16 gang rape case sparked off a debate over lowering the age limit for juveniles involved in heinous crimes.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau statistics, in 2013, as many as 33,707 rape cases were registered in the country as against 24,923 cases in 2012. As many as 1,884 juveniles were involved in rape cases in 2013.