New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha today passed by voice vote the Juvenile Justice Bill, amending the law to try 16 year olds accused of serious crimes such as rape and murder, as adults. The Lok Sabha has already passed the bill, which will now be sent to the President for ratification.
Present as the upper house debated the Bill were Asha Devi and Badrinath, the parents of Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old medical student who was gang-raped and tortured by six men on a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012. She died in a Singapore hospital 13 days later.
“I am satisfied that the bill has been passed, and other young girls will get justice. But I am sad that my daughter did not get justice,” said Jyoti’s mother Asha Devi.
Jyoti’s parents have spearheaded the demand for a change in the law. While Jyoti’s other attackers have been sentenced to death, the youngest was released on Sunday after three years in a remand home. Now 20, he was not tried in court for the brutal rape and murder as he was a few months short of 18 at the time of the attack.
Today’s amendment will not affect the juvenile offender. But there have been massive protests over his release and public sentiment brought pressure on political parties as they debated the change in law.
The Congress, crucial to any vote in the Rajya Sabha because of its superior numbers, supported the bill, though many of its leaders had said they favoured sending it to a parliamentary panel called a select committee.
The Left walked out before the vote after its suggestion that the bill be sent to a select committee for review was rejected.
Former top cop Kiran Bedi tweeted, “But for Nirbhaya’s parents the Juvenile Justice Bill would never have been passed by Rajya Sabha with the sense of urgency it did today.”
“I am happy that every party has supported it and I thank all of them,” said Maneka Gandhi, union minister for women and child development, who piloted today’s debate, making a strong pitch for the bill.