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Signal for new law on child justice

New Delhi, Nov. 30: The word “juvenile” has been replaced by the words “child” and “children” in a draft amendment bill that has raised the possibility of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, being scrapped altogether.

The ministry of women and child development has submitted the draft, proposing over 200 changes to the Juvenile Act, to the law ministry which suggested that the existing law be repealed and a new one introduced.

The draft bill, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, if approved by the cabinet, will be formulated as a new legislation — the Child Justice (Care, Protection and Rehabilitation) for Children Act. It was submitted to the law ministry a month ago.

Ministry sources say the “nature and extent of the amendments are such that there is need for repealing the present act”.

Minister Krishna Tirath has called a meeting with nine civil society members, including lawyers, educationists and activists, on December 10 to discuss the changes in the draft bill and initiate the process of turning it into a new legislation, sources said.

The draft bill has introduced over 100 new sections and brought provisions to deal with offences so far not covered under the Act.

It says that the word “juvenile has become pejorative by usage across the Act,” and should be “where necessary, deleted, or replaced by child or substituted with children in conflict with law, or child alleged or found to be in conflict with law, as appropriate, so as to avoid the negative connotation attached to the same”.

The change, the draft says, is necessary because it is “non-stigmatising” and “in keeping with international law and practice”.

The bill has also suggested major changes to the penal provisions of the Act.

For instance, reportage in the media exposing any details about the child, including name, address and name of school, is now punishable with a fine of Rs 25,000. The bill proposes to raise this to Rs 2 lakh.

Abuse, neglect, abandonment of children, punishable with jail for six months and a fine, will attract a jail term of three years that can be extended to 10 years if the child is disabled. If the abuse is by an employee of an organisation, the fine can extend up to Rs 5 lakh.