Union Cabinet approves lowering of age of Juveniles from 18 to 16 years for heinous crimes

Union Cabinet has approved lowering of age of juveniles from eighteen to sixteen years for heinous crimes. Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The cabinet also approved to introduce Amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014. This amendment will propose and add special provisions to tackle heinous offences like murder and rape committed by juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years.The proposed bill will amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. The parent Act clearly defines and classifies offences as serious, petty and heinous and defines differentiated processes for each classified category. While the amendments in the bill adds provisions that in case a heinous crime committed by a person between 16 and 18 years, will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to assess if the crime was committed as a child or as an adult. Then the trial of the case will take place as a juvenile or as an adult on basis of JJBs assessment and decide whether the culprit should be sent to observation home or tried in a regular court. Background The changes in the Parent Act come against the backdrop of outrage over the conviction of a minor in the Delhi gang-rape case of December 2012. The minor in this case was tried in a juvenile court and was sentenced to three years in a reform home. However, the lighter punishment to this minor had triggered a debate on punishment for juveniles convicted of heinous crimes.