Target: Minister of Law & Justice Dr. Ashwani Kumar.
Goal: Don’t lower the age requirement under which an adolescent may be considered a juvenile in India.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act has become the primary framework for legal justice regarding juveniles in India. This act has served to provide a special approach towards the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency while at the same time providing the framework for the protection, treatment, and rehabilitation of those children within the scope of influence of the juvenile justice system. This has proven an extremely important measure to protect those who would otherwise be educated into a lifetime of criminal activity. Unfortunately, this legislation is being threatened by a proposal to amend the Juvenile Justice Act to lower the age requirement under which an adolescent may still fall under the nation’s definition of a juvenile.
Altering the age with which one qualifies as a juvenile would be a mistake. There is a reason why the Juvenile Justice Act is currently committed to respecting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention presents the idea that the protection of child rights are entitlements which must be given to all children and adolescents right up until the child is 18 years of age. It is important to maintain this legal continuity and protect the rights of adolescents nearing that 18 years-old barrier.
There is a vital need to not only maintain accountability for children, but also to recognize that due to the differing psychology of an adolescent, their consequences and accountability must be factored in a different manner. To treat a juvenile as an adult would be to doom them to a foundation of crime that will only continue them down that path. This must not be allowed to happen; the Juvenile Justice Act’s age constraints must remain unaltered.
Dear Minister Kumar,
India’s Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act is an extremely important piece of legislature within the nation’s legal system. As the primary framework for how the legal system applies to juveniles in India this act continues to provide a special approach towards the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency. It is also a critical framework for the protection, treatment, and rehabilitation of those children who fall within the scope of influence of the juvenile justice system. This protection has served to lead many on the path towards becoming productive citizens rather than career criminals, as would be the case were they incarcerated under the conditions which they would be subjected to if legally treated as an adult.
It would be a tragic mistake to accept the proposed rule changes which would modify the age definition of a juvenile within the constraints of this act. The current iteration of the Juvenile Justice Act was not created on a whim, but rather designed to follow the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Given that India has already ratified the United Nations Treaty that has served to establish the Convention on the Rights of the Child as international law, it would be entirely contrary to the nation’s current established legal precedent to alter age standards now. The current legal convention establishes that the protection of child rights are entitlements required for all children and adolescents right up until the child is 18 years of age, and this is how it must remain. It is vital that accountability and punishment for developing adolescents be commensurate to their differing psychological make-ups. Treating them as adults will only lead to a criminal mindset and more criminal acts in the future.
The age requirement of the Juvenile Justice Act must be maintained for the sake of both those children who will be impacted and the nation who will deal with the long term results of their actions upon adolescents. If the age considerations are changed it could very well prove to harm India tremendously in the long term.
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