REFORMATION OR RETRIBUTION FOR THE JUVENILE CRIMINAL-By Shantonu Sen

418

” You will loose your stripes and you will not be able to do a thing to me”. The Station House

Officer Sarojani Nagar Police Station was challenged with these words by a seventeen year old

who lived in the slums near by. He and his gang of boys all younger than him with no family to

care about targetted the residences of Government Officers to break in rob and then set the flat

on fire. Such houses were invariably unoccupied in the afternoon with the husband ­ wife duo out

on work and the children in school. The young hoodlum knew his rights. The Juvenile Justice

(Care and Protection) Act 2000( let us call it The Act) does not allow any records of his crimes to

be kept. He cannot be arrested and interrogated. He has to be reformed no matter how many

younger boys and girls he turns into law breakers. Without much material to show him up for

what he is his sojourns in the various Children Homes were brief. He was back setting fire to

Sarojani Nagar flats with the SHO without a clue how to contain him. The Commissionar Police

Delhi was narrating this story of crime to the L . G.Delhi in the Crime Meeting presided over by

the Lt. Governor Delhi in the Rajniwas Conference Room some time in 2008.

The Act like our Anti Dowry Laws does not provide for exceptions. Even if 90% of the juvenile

criminal can be reformed some , say, not more tha ten percent cannot To keep the society sane

and protected they musr suffer some retibutiion. The activists and may their tribe increase, all

good doers , are up in arms. They refuse to recognise that our institutions , as they exist , cannot

reform that 10%. The choice is either create institutions that may be able to reform the

“exceptions” or provide for such retribution which may keep them away from repeating their

crimes. The activist who only trust reformation as an instrument against juvenile criminals have to

recast their thoughts to such retributive measures that are not as harsh as that visit the adult (

one over 18 years of age) for the same crime but retributive enough.

This was exactly what was attempted by the then Commissioner of Police Y. S. Dadwal. He dug

out facts statistics from various countries. He produced a plausible paper to buttress his case for

harsher measures in circumstances where the juvenile acted like the Sarojini Nagar seventeen

year old. His efforts were championed by the Lt Governor Delhi who had suggested the change in

dealing with different types of juvenile criminals in the very first instance. But the UPA

Government dragged its feet. Then December 16th 2012 ( Nirbhaya )took place . From all

accounts the juvenile among the six rapists and murderes was the monster. He has got the

benefit of The Act and while the four who faced trial will, possibly, hang he will be free by

December 2015. Had measures now contemplated been ushered in 2008­2009 when it was

originally proposed by the Commissioner of Police Delhi this juvenile would have been denied

this release.

The NDA and Maneka Gandhi think differently. No doubt reform should always take precedence.

But the Act needs a provision where a particular juvenile can be prevented from continuing with

his crime spree. The will to do this will surely find a solution. Confronted with steep escalation of

crimes by juveniles from 2003 , in 2013 the percentage of increase being , murder116.25%

,rape304.35%, kidnapping 459.0%, robbery334.0% and outraging of modesty175.0%. Does the

country have any choice? The Act has , despite its name failed to care and protect the juvenile/

juveniles we are discussing. The Act needs to be strenthened to deal stringently with creating

and promoting of crime by these juveniles. It has to send behind bars those diabolical Fagins

now , in thousands all over the country, who are creating and promoting crimes among juveniles

for their own , ill­gotten, gains, safe from the eyes of law.

You might also like More from author

Comments are closed.