The gruesome attack on Nirbhaya in late 2012 brought the topic of whether teenagers in the 16-18 age group should be tried as adults for serious crimes like rape and murder. Proponents of the bill believe that this will act as a deterrent to further incidents in the future, where criminals get away just because they are a few months short of 18. There is also the other side, which believes that justice should be reformative not retributive, and even more so when the perpetrator is below 18.
In December 2015, the Rajya Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice bill under which people in the age group will now have to face a special Juvenile Justice board, which will have 1 magistrate and 2 social workers, atleast one of whom is a woman. The board will then decide if the child should be tried as an adult or sent to a corrective home. While sentencing a person under 18 years of age as an adult may seem a bit harsh, it would be prudent to consider the malice in the actions and its impact on the victim and their families. Reformative justice, will always be the choice in a democracy like India, but any measure that will make a potential criminal think twice, shouldn’t be stopped by labelling it retributive.Existing research has proven that extreme action(i.e capital punishment) isn’t a deterrent in violent crimes, but the impact of having some punitive action where none was available earlier has been tremendously positive.
I believe as we move forward in our quest to be a leading world power, having a safe and nurturing environment for out women is of the essence. The bill is a strong step in this direction, providing a fair and efficient solution to a problem that haunts the Indian society today.