New Delhi, Parents of the December 16 gang rape victim on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the passing of the Juvenile Justice Bill in the Rajya Sabha here.
“I just pray that our girls should be safe now. I am happy (with the passage of the bill) but somewhat I’m unhappy that justice wasn’t served to our Nirbhaya,” Asha Devi, the mother of 23-year-old paramedical student Nirbhaya who was gang raped by five men and a juvenile on a moving bus in Delhi in 2012, told media.
Nirbhaya’s parents Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh had earlier in the day met Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and urged early passage of the bill in parliament.
Later, Singh too said he was satisfied with the passage of the Bill, saying: “The changes can be brought in later (in the bill). As of now I’m happy that the Juvenile Justice Bill has been passed in parliament today.”
The Supreme Court on Monday had dismissed a plea to block the release of the juvenile convict in the 2012 gang rape case citing absence of law in this regard, even as the victim’s parents protested here at Jantar Mantar for more stringent guidelines to tackle criminals like him.
Disappointed with the apex court’s verdict, Nirbhaya’s father had said it’s not the verdict that disappointed him but the parliamentarians.
The Juvenile Justice Bill that was passed on Tuesday provides for the trial of those between 16 and 18 years of age as adults for heinous offences. Also, anyone between the age of 16 and 18 who commits a less serious offence may be tried as an adult if he is apprehended after he attains the age of 21.
“We have been demanding that the juvenile should be tried on the basis of the crime they have committed. But the current bill has lowered the age of the juvenile,” Singh said.
“Lowering the age doesn’t matter since such a heinous crime can be committed by a 14-year-old as well. But at least there is a start,” he added.
However, not all were happy with the passage of the bill.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat said: “Parliament without going to a select committee, rejected the Parliamentary Standing Committee report, on the basis of a campaign of hysteria mounted by the BJP, has succeeded in getting the bill passed which I do not think is in the interest of justice of India.”
She expressed concern on lowering the age of the juvenile in India from 18 to 16, saying that lowering the age is completely wrong.
“When you are lowering the age of a juvenile from 18 to 16 what is the logic of which you are doing it. What does Maneka Gandhi mean when she says nature vs nurture? This is an utterly confused argument…. Juvenile crime in India is still just 1.2 percent,” Karat said.
“Repeat offences by juveniles have not increased in India. On the other-hand, it has decreased from around 12 percent to five percent. So there is something right going on even in these highly, inadequately funded homes. So, without going into all these issues, suddenly to say that bring it (juvenile age) down to 16, this is completely wrong,” she added.
Emphasizing on the current Juvenile Justice Bill (JJ Bill), Supreme Court advocate Colin Gonsalves (on Monday) said: “Lowering the age of the juvenile from 18 to 16 is not the solution at all…Rather than trying them as adults, we should focus on why those under the age of 18 are committing such crimes?”
Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said although the bill has been passed in the Rajya Sabha it will require improvement in future. “If there is any room for improvement, it can be done in future. It was necessary (to pass the JJ Bill) so it was passed in the Rajya Sabha today.”