The Juvenile Justice Bill, that seeks to lower the age defining a juvenile from 18 to 16 years, will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha today as pressure mounted both inside and outside Parliament for passage of the bill to ensure justice in heinous crimes such as the December 16, 2012 gang rape. The Juvenile Justice Amendment Act has already been passed in the Lok Sabha.
The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a plea against release of the youngest convict in the case leading to protests. The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, was heading home with a male friend after an evening showing of the movie 'Life of Pi' when six men lured them onto a private bus. With no one else in sight, they beat the man with a metal bar, raped the woman and used the bar to inflict massive internal injuries to the woman.
Protesters are demanding further incarceration of the rapist who was a juvenile at that time, claiming that he might pose a danger to society. The juvenile convict has served three years as per Indian law at a minor correctional home and was released on Sunday. He will be kept under observation and gradually rehabilitated.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said "the government is ready and very keen to pass this Juvenile Bill", as a demand for expeditious passage was made in the Rajya Sabha. Parliament's Winter session will conclude on Wednesday.
(Mother of Jyoti broke down during protest against the release of juvenile convict of the 16 December Gang-rape, along with student activists at Jantar Mantar on December 20, 2015 in New Delhi, India. Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Derek O'Brien of the Trinamool Congress said he has given a notice under rule 267 seeking suspension of business in the Rajya Sabha and taking up the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2014.
"It is incumbent upon the House to listen to what is going on outside," he said, asking the House to rise above politics. "It is not a perfect bill but let us list it and pass the bill," O'Brien said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the bill was listed on December 8, 10 and 11. "We have listed it for tomorrow," he said, adding if all agree the bill can be taken up for discussion today itself.
Outside Parliament, Prasad targeted Congress, saying "the Bill has been thrice listed in the past for consideration and passage in Rajya Sabha; however, the House has not been able to run".
Union Minister Uma Bharti said she will appeal to Congress president Sonia Gandhi to allow passage of the Bill in the interest of the girls in the country.
"There is an obvious anger in the country against the release of the juvenile accused in the Nirbhaya case. The Bill was listed three times, but the Congress is not allowing the session to work and justice is not being delivered to Nirbhaya," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
SP leader Ramgopal Yadav blamed "politics" for the delay in the passage of the Bill.
The victim's mother Asha Devi while stating that her fight against the system would continue, demanded that the new Juvenile law be passed by Rajya Sabha tomorrow itself, a stand which was also echoed by Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Swati Maliwal.
(Indians place candles as they remember last year's gang rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi, in Ahmadabad, India, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat explained that even if the amendments to the Act were passed, the new provisions would not apply retrospectively to the juvenile convict in the gangrape case.
After a meeting with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, the victim's father Badri Singh Pandey said the Congress leader gave the assurance that the bill will come in the Upper House today.
Asked about the release of the convict, he said, "Now, it is not the right time to talk about him as he is a free man and there is no law to hold him back. Our fight is not only for us but for all the women and girls."
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