The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) declared the sixth accused a minor on the basis of school certificate provided by a government school in Badaun, and his case will be heard by the board. As per the media report, the juvenile was the one who allured the couple to come in the bus for their destination that was a total lie, and he was the one who assaulted her brutally. And he will be one who will be the state’s guest in a reform house and get out of it soon.
Can the school certificate be believed? Has it not been procured on a payment just to get the criminal out or to save the son of the soil by placing him in juvenile age from the many years of imprisonment for the heinous rape crime? Had the school recorded the date of birth on the basis of any document? Was the date or age recorded by the school clerk or the concerned teacher on their own estimate at the time of admission? As reported, ‘the mother of the juvenile accused was not sure about the exact date and time of birth of her son. Besides, the natives of the accused’s village too seemed unclear about his birth date.’
It is but understandable. In my whole village, my grandfather had only recorded the birth dates of our family members. Neither my mother nor my wife or any one in their family knew their exact birth dates. So the birth certificate from the school can’t be a proof of his being juvenile.
I don’t know how the upper age of a juvenile has been fixed at eighteen. As per Indian scriptures, the age is to be sixteen, if not lower now. At least Chanakya, the pioneer on the knowledge of statecraft writes: “Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends.
”लालयेत् पंच वर्षाणि दश वर्षाणि ताडयेत् ।
प्राप्ते तु षोडशे वर्षे पुत्रं मित्रवदाचरेत् ॥
Laalayet pancha varshaani dasha varshaani taadayet
Praapte tu shodashe varshe putram mitravadaacharet
So the maximum age of a juvenile would have been sixteen years.
However, my logic is different. A juvenile such as one involved in Delhi gang case doesn’t belong to that category that may alright for a developed country. In our country for 60 percent or more of the population, a boy gets married at around the age of ten. He starts discussing sexual pleasures of all kinds with his friends and getting into the act of sex with his wife. When such a person goes for the act of rape and particularly in a group, he is as good as or as bad as adults. There can’t be any reason for treating such a person differently and certainly not excused for being juvenile. Further, as the fellow looked like a juvenile, the rest of the adults used the fellow for advancing their cause.
Considering the brutality of the case, the juvenile board would not have allowed the criminal as juvenile. I doubt that in our country we are having reform houses where the reformation takes place. At least I have not heard of any. Interestingly, the government is still thinking of reducing the age.