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Sheila Dikshit backs demand for lowering juvenile age limit

Press Trust of India
Feb 04, 2013 at 05:54am IST

New Delhi: Amid a demand for lowering the juvenile age limit in the wake of the Delhi gangrape case, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Sunday gave her support, saying the nature of the crime should not be overlooked while deciding on the age issue. "If you match the nature of the crime with the age of the person with being juvenile and non-juvenile, then I think that evaluation could perhaps help in (deciding the issue)," Dikshit said.

The Juvenile Justice Board earlier this week had declared the sixth accused in the December 16 Delhi gangrape case as minor, triggering demand for lowering the age ceiling for juveniles from 18 years to 16. The accused was stated to be the most brutal of the accused by the Delhi Police in its chargesheet.

The Chief Minister, referring to demand of the family of the gangrape victim to lower the age limit for defining a juvenile, wondered whether it would be proper to forgive him for being a juvenile delinquent. "The parents are demanding (punishment for the accused). Why they are saying because he was the most aggressive of all those people involved in the crime. Do we consider his being a juvenile as an excuse to forgive him. What he did would perhaps any adult would not do," Dikshit said.

Dikshit backs demand for lowering juvenile age limit

The Delhi Chief Minister said the nature of the crime should not be overlooked while deciding on the age issue.

The ruling by the Juvenile Justice Board could enable the sixth accused to walk free by June 4, 2013 when he attains the age of 18 years. The family of the gangrape victim had expressed unhappiness over the decision of the board and said that they would challenge it in the court so that the accused get death penalty.

"The family is not ready to accept that the sixth accused get anything less than death penalty," the brother of the girl said. Dikshit said the government will have to take a decision on the issue after carefully examining various aspects to it. "There is an argument which says if a juvenile can commit such a crime then is he juvenile. The other argument is that a juvenile is considered innocent as he may not be knowing what he is doing," the Chief Minister said.

Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar has said the government was considering all available options and would take a considered view at the earliest. Delhi Police was exploring legal opinion to go for an appeal in the Delhi High Court on the ruling of the Juvenile Justice Board. The Justice Verma committee was not in favour of the demand to lower the juvenile age limit from 18 years to 16.

Dikshit, who had been critical of functioning of the police and demanded the resignation of Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar in the aftermath of the gangrape, said people must have confidence in the force instead of getting scared. "The sense of confidence in police and that it is a helping hand to the citizens has to be evolved. Training of police, language of police, their action etc have to improve. So its a kind of holistic way you have to look at it so that people get confidence instead of feeling scared. People must consider policemen as friend," she said.

The Delhi government has been attacking police and last week even sent a letter to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde accusing the force of "completely deviating" from its core duties and "trivialising" the issue of safety of women. The Chief Minister had particularly criticised the police for use of force to contain protests at Raisina Hills and India Gate in the wake of the gangrape.

She complimented the Justice Verma Committee panel for coming out with a "crisp and nice report" on women safety. "It is extremely well thought out by some of the best minds of the country," she said.

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