After public cry over the release of juvenile convict of December 16 gang rape, the Parliament has made amendments to the juvenile justice bill.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2015 which was passed by Rajya sabha will allow 16-to-18-year-olds involved in heinous crimes to be tried as adults and they can be sentenced to up to seven years in jail. The bill become law after it is approved by the President.
Following the amendments, the ministry of women and child development has approved the setting up of 36 observation homes (borstals) across India.
The juveniles, convicted of heinous crime, would be kept in these homes post-conviction till they turn 21.
The women and child development minister, Maneka Gandhi, said:
“We don’t think it is prudent to put all of them together. A day after the juvenile justice bill was passed in Rajya Sabha, we approved the proposal to set up 36 borstals or observation homes across India.”
Though it is common in other countries, this is the first time that such homes would be set up in India.
A ministry official said:
“After that, his case will be reviewed by the Juvenile Justice Board. If the board feels there is still scope to reform the 21-year-old, he will be sent back to a borstal. Otherwise, he will have to go to an adult prison.”
Rehabilitation is one of the important factor that gives convicts chance to reform. Currently, all the convicts,who are under 18, are kept in reforms houses, irrespective of the severity of their crime.
However, observational homes won’t be much different from reform homes.
An official said, “It’s just a change in nomenclature. The facilities will be more or less the same. Borstals are also correctional centres where such boys would be provided education, vocational training and psychological counseling.”
But, the official added the supervision would be stricter as they would have inmates involved in crimes like rape and murder.
“The idea is to provide an environment where such young offenders can be reformed,” said the ministry official.
Apart from this, the ministry will also partner with NGOs from January 1 to conduct a social audit of all juvenile homes to see how they are run and whether they follow the rules.
It is expected to be completed in six months.
“Action will be taken against homes found to be running in violation of the prescribed norms,” said a senior ministry source.