Three years after Nirbhaya’s brutal rape and murder India heard her cry for justice. Appalled that her tormentor was let off because he was deemed too young to stay in jail, parliament today bowed to the collective will of the people and passed the legislation that will ensure that juveniles 16 and above will now be tried as adults.
But the passage of the bill was not unanimous. Several MPs from half a dozen political parties opposed the bill calling it a crime against children. These dissenting MPs believed that the focus of the law should not be on punishment but on reforming and rehabilitating juveniles who are psychologically too immature to comprehend the consequences of their actions.
These dissenting MPs also believed that locking up juveniles with hardened criminals will only radicalise them rendering them unsuitable to join the mainstream at a later date. Worse these dissenting MPs have accused those who backed the bill of succumbing to the lynch mob.
The fact that the bill is now a law proves that at least the majority view was in favour of aligning India with some of the most progressive democracies the world over. More than that, parliament has in its wisdom decided to give punishment its due place in the architecture of juvenile reforms.