Parliament passed a voice vote amending the Juvenile Justice Bill, making it law to try 16 to 18 year-olds accused of rape and murder as adults. The bill will now be sent to the President for ratification. The present law said those under 18 can be sentenced to a maximum of 3 years in a reform facility.
Present at the upper house debate were Asha Devi and Badrinath, the parents of Jyoti Singh the 23-year-old medical student who was gang raped and tortured and died as a result in December 2012.
Jyoti’s parents spearheaded the demand for a change in the law because the youngest rapist was released after 3 years in a remand home, as he was 17 at the time of the attack.
The amendment will not affect the young 2012 rapist but massive protests were held over his release and public sentiment brought pressure on political parties as they debated the change in the law. The law will be used in future cases involving juvenile offenders above 16-years.
Former top cop Kiran Bedi tweeted that if it was not for Nirbhaya’s parents, the Juvenile Justice Bill would never have been passed by the Rajya Sabha with the sense of urgency it did on that day. Maneka Gandhi the union minister for women and child development who piloted the debate, said she was happy that every party had supported it.