In a significant move, the Women and Child Development Ministry has proposed that juveniles above 16 years of age involved in heinous crimes like murder or gang rape should be tried as adults under the Indian Penal Code.
The proposal is part of a draft note being prepared by the Women and Child Development ministry for Cabinet nod, sources said in New Delhi.
"The proposal is expected to be finalised in next few days," they added.
The proposal is significant given that the juvenile involved in the December 16 gangrape got away with very light punishment despite the victim declaring him as most gruesome among all the perpetrators. If passed, the new WCD proposal to amend the existing law will deny protection to the juveniles aged between 16-18 years under the Juvenile Justice Act.
The decision comes almost a year after the role of the juvenile in the December 16 gangrape case 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.
Official sources said that the Ministry held numerous consultations with experts before reaching this viewpoint.
The Supreme Court in July rejected petitions for lowering the age of juvenility from the existing 18 years.
However, recently it said it would examine whether juvenility should be considered depending on the gravity of the crime.
"More and more juveniles are getting involved in crimes like gang-rape and murder and escaping severe punishments on the plea that they have not yet reached 18 years. Moreover, the Ministry also studied the practices followed in developed countries before reaching this view," a senior official said.
Besides, the December 16 gangrape case, juveniles were found involved in the Mumbai Shakti Mills gangrape and in a recent gang rape in Guwahati.