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Juvenile age lowered: The move hailed as well as criticised
On the day when Cabinet cleared a proposal to amend the Juvenile Justice Act and lowered the age of juveniles from eighteen to sixteen, a horrific CCTV footage of five minors stabbing a 19-year-old boy to death in a south Delhi market has surfaced. The latest crime has brought the focus back on the rising brutality of juvenile offenders.

The footage was captured by a shop in Madangiri central market, which shows the victim who was going on a motorcycle was apprehended by five boys and they stabbed him to death. This incident took place at around 3 pm yesterday when the market was bustling with shoppers, but no one came to his rescue.

Though the amendment in the law came against the backdrop of outrage over the conviction of a minor in the Delhi gang-rape case of December, 2012. But we can see many other cases where juveniles are involved in heinous crimes, as they know that they will be getting minimal punishment, under the shield of 'Juvenile law'.

But will this amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act by the Centre will help in reducing the Juvenile crime rate? 

A former DGP of UP Prakash Singh feels that it is practical decision. He hailed the decision and said, "I think its a practical decision, and considering a large number of incidents being reported from this group of youth I think it was a good decision. In this case, the board will have the discretion to decide, and its not mandatory that anybody above sixteen will be treated as an adult."

However, women rights group like AIDWA has surprisingly opposed the move. It feels that this amendment of law is just a quick reaction on rising juvenile crimes, but its not a correct solution to the thing.

Sudha Sundraraman, Vice President of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) who is strongly against this amendment of law says, "Though there are problems involved in the fact that, many of these heinous crimes are being committed by youngsters, teenagers, and people in the age of 16-18 etc. But to reduce the Juvenile justice age is not the way to address the problem. First thing is we are going against the international laws which lay down the age of maturity, adult age etc. so, by doing this we are contravening the international commitments, thats a violation of thoughts."

She also discussed about the problem with the juvenile kids committing heinous crimes and feels that correction homes in India are flawed and needs to be changed.

"The problem arises, because the law is seen as a retribution rather than a reforming sort of instrument. The minor who commits a crime has to be shown the seriousness of what he has done and should pay the penalty. He has to be sent to a correct institution which will help him to do that. Now the problem is that in our system the reform apparatus is highly flawed and actually many criminals who are sent to the reform institutions they do not come out reformed," added Sundararaman.

Virag Dhulia, a Men's Rights Activist who also criticized this move by the Centre said, "We are just increasing the punishment and that is not going to solve the issue. The point is that we are not focusing on education, but we are only focusing on punishment. I think their needs to be an education and sensitization in society, rather than just punishing them."

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