Of the six people accused of gang-raping the 23-year-old medical student in Delhi, one is four months short of being an adult. With the possibility of him getting away with a lighter punishment, top bureaucrats in the country are in favour of reducing the age of juvenile criminals in such cases from 18 to 16.
An amendment to that effect will allow the awarding of harsh punishment to youth aged above 16 in criminal cases, including sexual assault and rape. However, the minor involved in the Delhi case may escape from getting a stringent punishment as an amendment in law cannot be applied with retrospective effect.
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday presided over a conference of chief secretaries and director generals of police. They could not arrive at a consensus on a proposal mooted by Union home secretary RK Singh, seeking denial of parole and remission to rape convicts.
However, a proposal from bureaucrats from UP, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu to reduce the age of juveniles involved in heinous crimes from 18 to 16 found support. “Given the consensus, this point can be added as an amendment in the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2012, which is pending before Parliament,” an official said.
Shinde asked the gathering to ensure 33 per cent women’s reservation in the state police and focused on the need to sensitise policemen towards women.