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Juvenile Justice Board to decide on juveniles above 16 yrs of age

Juvenile Justice Board to decide on juveniles above 16 yrs of age
In a significant move, government has decided to revise the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 in a bid to address concerns regarding the implementation of the Act.
To facilitate faster adoption of children and set up foster care homes, the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry intends to make the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) the statutory body, which means it will have powers to regulate inter-country adoptions along with issuing guidelines on adoption and related matter.

‘The CARA will perform the functions of promoting in-country adoptions, regulating inter-country adoptions, issuing guidelines on adoption and related matters as may be necessary. It will also carry out the functions of the Central Authority under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of inter-country adoption,’ the draft Bill says.

Further, CARA will also have the power to spend money as it thinks fit for performing various functions as prescribed under this Act and such sums shall be treated as expenditure payable out of the grants. The accounts of CARA will be audited by the Controller and Auditor General. Besides that, 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, gang 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.

‘In case of a child alleged to be in conflict with law who has completed 16th year of age as on the date of commission of an offence under sections 302, 326A, 376, 376A or 376D of IPC, the JJ Board shall conduct an inquiry regarding the premeditated nature of such offence, the mitigating circumstances in which such an offence was committed, the culpability of the child on committing such offence...’ the draft says.

‘It will then pass an order for continued adjucation of the case in accordance with the provisions of this Act or to transfer such case to the court having jurisdiction over such offence,’ the draft says.
However according to the Bill, in no case the juvenile involved in a heinous crime will be sentenced to death or life imprisonment either when tried under the provisions of JJ Act or under the provisions of IPC, the draft states.

The former WCD minister Krishna Tirath during the UPA regime had proposed that juveniles above 16 years of age, guilty of heinous crimes, be treated on par with adult offenders.
This move was opposed by various NGOs and NCPCR who stated that this kind of proposal was against child rights. The decision comes almost a year after the role of the juvenile in the December 16 gang-rape case which sparked off a debate over lowering the age limit for juveniles involved in heinous crimes and trying them under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code applicable for adults.
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