New Delhi, May 19: Demanding withdrawal of the amended Juvenile Justice Bill passed by the Lok Sabha, legal experts on Tuesday expressed concern that the legislation would destroy the future of children while not improving the safety of women.
The amended bill seeks to bring 16-18-year-olds under the purview of adult law when they commit heinous crimes.
In a statement, vice chancellors of 11 law universities, including those of Bengaluru-based National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and New Delhi-based Indian Law Institute, have said they condemned violence against women but "do not believe that sending children to jail is the way to curtail it".
They expressed concern that the Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill, which is now pending in Rajya Sabha, would destroy the future of young children forever and will be detrimental to the safety of women.
Vice chancellors of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University (Lucknow), NALSAR University of Law (Hyderabad), National Law University (Jodhpur), Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (Punjab), National University of Advanced Legal Studies (Kochi), National Law University (Cuttack), National Law University and Judicial Academy (Guwahati), O.P. Jindal Global University (Sonipat) and West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences were also signatories to the letter.
"We appeal to the government and parliamentarians to re-examine this bill by holding wide consultations for inclusion of restorative justice to strengthen the existing juvenile justice system instead of the punitive approach contained in the bill," they said in the joint statement.
Gurdip Singh Bahri, vice chancellor of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, said the bill "merits re-examination" as it "twists, tortures and completely bends" human rights jurisprudence and squarely violates convention on the rights of the child.
Preeti Jacob from NIMHANS, Bengaluru, said: "Juveniles are less culpable and are much more amenable to rehabilitative efforts and thus should not be transferred to the adult criminal justice system. The assessments that are being proposed in the bill in order to ascertain the mental capacity to commit an offence are arbitrary and unscientific."
Mohua Nigudkar from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and former member of Juvenile Justice Board said that "in her experience it is possible to reform juveniles irrespective of the offence they commit".