In the movie Udaan, an angry father would beat up his son just because he aspired to be a writer instead of pursuing engineering. But such tyrant fathers may have to be extremely careful in the future if Maneka Gandhi, the Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development has her way. Beating a child, verbally abusing a kid or inflicting any kind of corporal punishment could soon attract a stringent jail term of upto five years. Similarly, college bullies may soon have to mend their ways since cases of ragging could attract a jail term of three years.
The government is in the process of amending the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 and these are some of the suggestions which the draft bill plans to incorporate in the Act. The new bill tries to ensure that rights of children, often undermined in our society are given their due. The bill has already been circulated for inter-ministerial consultation by Maneka Gandhi.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the definition of “corporal punishment” will be significantly widened in the new law. It shall include physical as well as verbal abuse and if a person is found guilty, the juvenile court can give a jail term of six months for the first offense. For a second and subsequent breach of law, the jail term can be up to three years. In case of serious physical injury and mental trauma, the maximum jail term is five years, according to the draft bill.
If the bill is ratified by the Parliament, India will join an elite club of 40 countries which have adopted a no tolerance policy on corporal punishment by making it a penal offense.
The government also plans to crack the whip on ragging that is prevelant in various colleges and universities. If a person is found guilty, his expulsion from the institution will be compulsory, alongside imprisonment of three years. Often there are instances of college authorities trying to hush up these incidents. The government is also considering making the head of the management of the institution accountable. The person if found guilty of a cover up may be sentenced to a jail term of three years and attract a fine of up to one lakh rupees.
While much discussion has been carried out about the validity of lowering the juvenile age in case of serious crimes, the government also seems to be paying attention to the protection of children by disgruntled parents or teachers in the draft bill.