New Delhi: Welcoming the Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Nobel Peace Laureate and child rights' champion Kailash Satyarthi on Tuesday hailed it as 'a major legislative reform measure towards holistic child protection and development'.
'Whether it's a crime by a child or on a child, the focus has to be on reform and restitution and not just deterrence. Care and protection must be provided to all children up to the age of 18. We welcome that no child below the age of 18 will go to jail and instead be sent to a special place of safety till the age of 21,' he said in a statement issued here.
Stating that the protection framework provided under this law is extremely robust, Satyarthi said 'It is very heartening that the Act recognises new crimes against children like vulnerability to child marriage, involvement in armed conflict, organised crime and employment in bonded labour.'
The bill also specifies double fine and punishment for crimes against disabled children. It additionally defines and lays out stringent punishment for induction and abetment of begging, where children are involved and also use of children in drug trafficking.
'Compulsory registration of childcare institutions will go a long way in curbing trafficking and abuse of children. This, when combined with the clause pertaining to illegal adoption being treated as a punishable offense, will lend a lot of legal ammunition to our rescue efforts,' said Satyarthi.
While terming the Bill progressive, he pointed out the need for effective execution. 'Whereas on one hand, execution of this bill will hold the key to its success, on the other, Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committees will have enormous responsibility of safeguarding the best interest of child for this act to be a success.'
'I demand effective and efficient enforcement of the law, setting up of a rehabilitation framework in a time-bound manner and adequate and timely budget allocation,' he stated.
The Juvenile Justice (care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014 replaces the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000. It addresses children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
The Bill was first introduced in Parliament on August 12, 2014 and was passed by the Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015.