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Should "Juveniles" be tried and punished as adults?

Juvenile delinquency is one of the most exaggerated problem in today’s world. Everyone is debating whether child offenders should be tried and punished as adults and if the answer to this question is Yes then what should be the relevant age for that and what consequences will the child face.

Literal meaning of ‘Juvenile’ is childish or immature but is it really so? Today’s kids are far more intelligent than adults. If we see on the negative side, they commit crimes with more brutality than adults. Juvenile delinquency is very common these days.

Mohammad Afroz, the so called ‘juvenile’ in Delhi gang rape case inserted an iron rod in the victim’s private parts and pulled out her intestines shouting ‘die bitch’. According to his birth certificate and school documents he was declared as 17 years and six months old so the Juvenile Justice Board determined that he would not be tried as an adult. He was convicted of rape and murder under the Juvenile Justice Act ,2000 and given the maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment .The juvenile was released on 20 December 2015.

The Juvenile Justice Act has been amended now. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, allows for juveniles in the age group of 16–18, who are involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults.

Recently, Class 11 student of Ryan International School slits throat of a seven year old innocent child Pradyuman Thakur’s just to postpone his exams and a PTM.

Juvenile Justice Board ruled that the 16 year old accused in the Pradyuman murder case will be tried as an adult.The court's decision was highly influenced by the psychological reports of the student ,which has highlighted his troubled behaviour at school .

The juvenile was "highly aggressive" in his behaviour. Teachers of the school have confirmed he had in the past hatched a plan to poison the school's drinking water tank.

Well, today we are debating, should juveniles be tried in courts of law as adults? In my opinion ‘Yes’, juveniles should be tried as adults if the offence that they have committed are adult and of grave nature.

Delhi based lawyer Shweta Kapoor says “Minds of juveniles who have attained the age of 16 and commit serious crimes are well developed and they do not need care and protection of the society. Rather, the society needs care and protection against them.”

No matter how old one is, murder or rape are not offences that are committed without the culprit’s guilty mind.Mens rea and Actus Reus both are essential ingredients to commit a crime.

Any teenager who commits murder or rape of a human being should not be treated as a child and should not be allowed to get away with it.

Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 has amended the age from 18 to 16 years when a child can be tried as an adult. But we won’t be happy with age 16 either. What would be the age to determine his mindset? You tell me , can we set the age criteria to 16 or 18? Why not 15 or 14 ? A few months back a 15 year old boy killed a women for INR 60000 to take part in a reality show. So we can’t judge the mind of a child according to his age. Age should not be a bar to punish the accused. If he is able to understand the consequences of his act, he should be punished accordingly.

However, some child protection activists are against the amendment to Juvenile Justice Act. According to Anant Kumar Ashtana, a lawyer in the Delhi High Court, “by suggesting change in the juvenile justice system the government has not done justice.” He further adds that “the new juvenile law will not reform a juvenile but school him in crime.”

Child counselors say that apart from their background and peers, society and community are also responsible for juvenile delinquency. Many times it is the police attitude towards juveniles that force them to do the crime again. They are not born as criminals. So juveniles should not be tried as adults.

Everyone has its own opinion about child and their psychology. What do you think? Please tell me in the comments below.