Reducing Age Limit for Juveniles

A Hurried Decision

Consensus is said to have been reached on the Age of attaining adulthood. It is now down from 18 to 16 – that too on the ground of punishing one of the rapists who is by present standard considered minor and eligible for bail on that age ground. It is laudable that the Group of Ministers (GoM) reached such a consensus. But if the gangrape is the only reason for such a breath-taking decision being adopted, then things do not augur well for the country.

What are the reasons in favor of this decision to reduce the age bar for attaining adulthood, other than assuring punishment for the rapist? We should discuss it with the best possible priority. Or we may feel suffocated in the long run. The anti-rape bill requires unanimity and even the Prime Minister himself has to get involved. He set up the GoM to resolve the differences. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde expressed confidence that that differences would be resolved and the government will be able to secure parliamentary approval for the legislation by March 22. The bill is expected to be in parliament only next week as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has called an all-party meet to evolve consensus over the issue March 18.

Thus the stage is all set for reducing the age bar for men and women of 16. Since the proposition centers on the gangrape, and the whole nation waits with a throbbing heart to see what is actually happening, it is highly debatable if it at all can yield any good result. One gangrape, however, horrendous it is, cannot establish anything on this earth. But with surmise we wait till today that no statement comes out in favor of Nirbhaya (an imaginary name for the Delhi gangrape) from the authority, but suddenly for punishing a minor one, the draft is being changed to a bill.

All states in principle agreed on reducing the age limit for juveniles from 18 to 16 at a meeting of Chief Secretaries and police officers in Delhi and the meeting was chaired by Home Minister. The minor was most barbaric in the brutal gangrape and murder of the victim. The juvenile reportedly removed her intestines with his bare hands and suggested that she be thrown off the bus. After this anyone will agree that for punishing the juvenile crime any step can be taken. The problem is elsewhere. After the reduction of the age, in many other situations, the young people may claim to do more ghastly things on the plea that they have become adult and the parents will not have any control over them. That is the other side which very few now are thinking. At the age of 16, a young man does not even leave school. But after the passing of the law for reducing the age limit, a schoolboy may challenge the parents and may claim property even, along with other rights to freedom. The word minor will be of no value after this. At sixteen very children gain maturity and if they are suddenly told that adulthood comes so early, then there remains every chance to misuse the opportunity. Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 defines juvenile as a boy who has not completed 18 years of age.

Now a days, love marriage and elopement occur every now and then. After the passing of the bill, the 16 year school boy may take any step against the family members and parents. It is true that the gang rape victim’s soul will get some consolation if the accused minor is not spared on the plea of juvenility. But there are also other problems and consequences as well in reducing the age limit for attaining adulthood. It is very rare that a boy of sixteen can take any decision independently and with full responsibility. After the Bill is passed, child marriage will grow and many such other incidents will occur which may create a bigger crisis. It was better that we had taken some more time in passing the bill and at the same time there should be a special bill for punishing the minor accused in the gang rape in the harshest possible way. But to generalize the issue and to bring all 16 years old youths to claim adulthood for them is a decision taken in a hurry. It is not ensured that such reduction in the age will help reduce rapes in number. It is next to impossible for us to agree that by reducing the age limit for the juveniles, all evils can be removed or the juvenile crime can be checked. It is simply an eye wash and nothing more, at best a gimmick. We should think deeper over the issue. Or it will be an overmuch- hurried decision taken and it will have worse consequences in family and social life as well.


More by :  Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee

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Views: 3400      Comments: 3

Comment Mr. Amit Pande, as everyone has freedom to share their thoughts, I would also like to be the part of it and would like to tell you that I am agree with the thought of Dr. Ratan that decreasing age is not the only solution. “In today’s world children have greater IQ and becoming mature faster” – then you also have to see that what comes under the word “world” with differences of developing and developed countries and IQ level of children. Giving you an example of Scandinavian countries and the IQ level is dropping. So please don’t generalize with whole world. IQ tests reliably measure smartness or matured???... Is another debatable topic and it has also mentioned by some of the author that IQ test aren’t perfect.

Another thing is that don’t be emotional or personal, let the discussion be healthy and at intellectual level. Hence, there is no significance between what he has written and controlling behavior and his vision. Sorry!!!

Rakesh Prajapati
22-May-2015 08:23 AM

Comment Thanks Amit Pande for his free opinion. At least being a young man of his time he reads my article and tells his opinion. I like this spontaneous reasoning. But he can be a little kind to the senior people .This shows that he should be controlled for some more years before he is given to comment. Argument is good ,but to hurt one senior person is not desirable on the part of the young people.

Dr.Ratan Bhattacharjee
06-Oct-2013 10:28 AM

Comment Hello,
It looks like this gentleman lacks any vision. in todays world where children have greater IQs and are becoming mature faster, it is very correct to declare them as adults at 16 years and allow them to take up their own responsibility sooner.
Dr. Ratan appears to be biased and does not want to lose control of his children at an earlier age. It looks like he is of a controlling nature. And hence his arguments have no weightage.


Amit Pande
06-Oct-2013 04:54 AM

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