Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill- Pros and Cons

Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill- Pros and Cons

Age is more than a number. It can make the difference between life and death in more ways than one. The lone juvenile convict in the Nirbhaya case has escaped the gallows on account of a mere technicality. Having engaged in the brutal rape and murder of the victim, he was convicted and found guilty of the crime. But while his cohorts were sentenced to death by hanging, he was only given a maximum of 3 years in a reform facility. On 20th December, 2015, the juvenile convict walked free. Now, a debate has been ignited on the need for the Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill to be passed as soon as possible. What are the pros and cons of this Bill? Can it solve the problem? Let us decode the Amendment Bill and see if it has the capacity to empower women through justice against wrongdoers regardless of their age.


1. Bill will not prevent juvenile criminals from evading the net: As per NCRB statistics, number of juveniles accused of violent crimes against women is only on the rise. The law has plugged what it sees as a gap - juveniles between 16 to 18 years accused of heinous crimes can be tried as adults. This does not guarantee younger juveniles will not evade the grasp of the law after committing deadly crimes. Consider the case of 2 12 year old girls in Wisconsin in 2014 who lured a girl into the woods and stabbed her multiple times to death. In this US state, those above the age of 10 who commit murder can be tried in a criminal court. The 2 12 year olds were therefore tried as adults.

2. Mere tinkering with numbers will not help: In 18th century US, juveniles as young as 7 were tried and sentenced in criminal courts while Pakistan has also sentenced teen killers to capital punishment

3. Juvenile courts are not child savers: For their efforts to prevent juvenile criminals from being tried in court, juvenile courts and specialists were called child savers. This is against the efforts to curb the menace of abuse and murder against what are often juvenile victims. How can juvenile courts be called child savers?

4. Rehabilitation is possible in some cases: Rising violent crime rates have been testing the juvenile justice system in many countries and nearly every US state has tightened its juvenile justice laws and the number of juveniles in adult prisons went up to nearly 230% between 1990 and 2010. But the Bill does not make provisions for rehabilitation which is possible in some cases.

5. Youth tried as adults have higher recidivism rate: a 1996 study found that youth transferred to adult prisons were 30% more likely to commit crimes again as compared to those lodged in juvenile justice detention facilities. CDC also found 35% more likelihood of arrest for youth tried as adults.

6. Juvenile Justice Homes are hell holes: A report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights has called juvenile justice homes a place where guards and senior inmates prey on those housed there. Homes also lack trained counsellors and nearly 40% of the criminals lapsed back into crime on account of negligence from the authorities

7. Juvenile justice homes are mere warehouses- They do nothing to address the problem of rehab and neither does the Juvenile Justice Bill.

8. Human mind not completely developed: Studies have shown that human mind is not completely developed till the age of 25 and juveniles are poorest of the poor. Often, such children forced into smuggling and prostitution have either no knowledge or choice. It is unfair to punish a child as an adult


1. Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill protects women: If steps are not taken to prevent juveniles from escaping the gallows, crimes against women will continue to be perpetuated in society. But not punishing the Nirbhaya juvenile convict, we are sending out the message that it is okay for teenagers and children to engage in violent crimes.

2. Punishment should befit crime: Providing the violent juvenile convict with a job and money following his release after he brutalised, raped and killed a young girl is tantamount to incentivising crime. It gives a wrong message to poor sections where crime may be seen as a stepping stone for better opportunities.

3. What about crimes committed with full knowledge- For juveniles aged between 16 to 18, punishment should be given in cases such as the Nirbhaya juvenile convict where there is complete understanding regarding the implications of the crime.

4. Criminals are exploiting the juvenile justice system, bill will prevent this: With increasing number of organised crime networks exploiting the juvenile justice system and the loopholes, the Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill will come as a welcome relief and deterrent for such evildoers.


While the recent nod of the cabinet to amend the juvenile justice bill would be a welcome move, steps need to be taken to make laws tougher so that criminals do not evade the net. Lawmakers need to be more proactive and take steps so that barbaric criminals like the Nirbhaya Juvenile convict are not allowed to walk free. Punishing the juveniles in exactly the same degree as they have committed the crime is only fair and in keeping with principles of natural justice. Victims deserve justice and if law cannot protect society from criminals and murderers, what good is it? DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal has urged the RS to pass the Bill. Hopefully, this time the lawmakers are listening.
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  • RE: Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill- Pros and Cons -Deepa Kaushik (12/23/15)
  • The juvenile justice amendment bill is definitely better over the former one. We should be a bit satisfied that the politicians and Government got out of their complete hearing impairment and atleast attempted something. Though the bill so passed is not all that good enough to curb the crime against women, yet it would create an option for more criminals to be tried before law for their crime.

    Including the 16-18 years into the trial list as adults opens up the ray of light to seek justice by many of those who have been disappointed by the law just for the accused being a juvenile. The law not only covers the cases against women, but it is open to all the heinous crimes where the accused is in the age group of 16 or above. With the increasing incidents of crime against women and the number of murders and similar offense where the accused either kills or cripples the victim in some or the other manner for the lifetime and escapes easily under the lieu of being a juvenile, we are in a bit better position to get these accused to the actual course of punishment they deserve.

    The law still has the same loophole that it already had. Those committing serious crimes under the age group of 16 would still be tried as juveniles. The juvenile does not mean a child by age, but the temperament and the growth along with the brain activity should be comparable to the child. A person having so much rage and perverted mindset to commit offense like rape and murder cannot be considered to be a child. This law opens up scope for more agitations and confrontations across the nation where the other accused within lesser age group would be requested for trial as adults. With the amendment of the law, the possibility of the amendment has been opened up and this would definitely extend its fate for further amendments in the near future.
  • RE: Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill- Pros and Cons -Abhishek Sapra (12/22/15)
  • Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill passed is a done thing,but what about the convict who has now been evaded....
    He is still guilty and this law should apply on him also for ruining the life of an innocent girl.Although this will not bring that girl back but still it's a learning for all those who attempts to do it.