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We change age old practises, but why not juvenile age?
The Nirbhaya case created a huge debate all over the country for considering the age of juvenile crime. While many suggested reducing the age, many child development organizations, social activists opposed to it, strongly. Recently, the Supreme Court of India closed the whole discussion on this by disagreeing to reduce the age to 16 years.

In 1850, the first legislation recognising the need to cater to children came into force, where it said children in the age group of 10-18 convicted by courts intend to provide some vocational course for their future rehabilitation.

After that several times the Juvenile Justice Act has been re-looked into. The JJ Act (2000) clearly says, an individual who has not reached 18 years of age is a juvenile. The Indian constitution has determined 14 years as an age of the child; then why we consider 18 years as the age for juvenile delinquency still remains a big question.

Many will agree that the 18 year old boy in 1850 cannot be compared with the 18 year old boy of 2013. There is significant change at physical, mental, cognitive level. The present day children are quite open to modern way of living, equipped with knowledge and advanced, yes of course they are (mostly) inferior in the criteria like innocence, simplicity, values, ethics and culture, compared to the children of 1850.

As per the report of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, in India, 2011, a total of 33,887 juveniles were apprehended. The percentage shares of juveniles apprehended under the age groups 7-12 years, 12-16 years, 16-18 years are 3.3%, 32.5% and 63.9% respectively.

Odisha has witnessed an alarming rise in the rate of juvenile delinquency. Over 900 juveniles, mostly in the age group of 13 to 18, were found involved in different crimes, including rape and murder in 2012. Those juveniles include 908 boys and 32 girls. In 2011, the total number of such juveniles stood at 621, including 604 boys, according to home department's fresh white paper placed in the assembly. According to the report, the number of boys belonging to 17 to 18 years age group involved in such crimes increased from 282 in 2011 to 428 in 2012 which stands at 45% of the total crime.

Punishments are prescribed to create fear so that people can be debarred from committing such crimes, but when you know that the law does not punish you much if you are below the prescribed age, then the fear is lessened.  The communication and information system has gone through tremendous changes in between 1850 to 2013. People have become more empowered with the increased access to information, and many are quite capable of misutilising the weakness of the legal systems.

If the country can consider reducing the voting age limit to 18 from 21 then why is there a problem in changing the juvenile age. We are open to changing all the age old practices then why not ready to change the legal system? A country grows when the citizens perform their duties and for that they are entitled for some rights. But the saddest part of this country is that we only fight for the rights of the individuals; forget that they need to perform some duties also.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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