On 7 August 2014, the Union Cabinet cleared a historic, all new juvenile justice law under which 16 to 18 year olds who commit heinous offences such as rapes and robberies can be tried as adults. Heinous offence has been defined as “an offence for which the minimum punishment under the IPC or any other law is imprisonment for seven years or more.”
The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Bill-2014, replaces the Juvenile Justice Act-2000, in which everyone below the age of 18 was treated as a child and tried by the Juvenile Justice Board for all offences. The maximum punishment under the old law was three years in a correction home—the one meted out to the minor convict in the Delhi gang-rape case.
However, under the new law, 16 to 18 year olds who commit heinous offences will only be tried by children’s courts, not adult courts. Children’s court won’t be bound by the Juvenile Justice Board’s opinion and may decide to proceed with adult trial of 16 to 18 year olds or otherwise.