Indian media: Punishing juvenile crime

Rape crimes have caused outrage and widespread protests in India in recent years Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rape crimes have caused outrage and widespread protests in India in recent years

Media in India welcome the government's decision to approve a bill to allow children over 16 to be tried as adults for crimes like rape and murder.

But there is also concern that the move might be rushed in because of public outrage at the growing number of grave offences committed by teenagers.

The Times of India calls the government bill "a brave new step" that shows the authorities are taking note of the debate in society "on the need to change punishments given to youth old enough to know the nature of violent crimes they're participating in".

Hindustan Times recalls that the gang rape of a student in Delhi in 2012 and the involvement of a juvenile in the attack had "triggered a ferocious debate" on whether existing legislation should be amended.

The daily says that, according to statistics, the number of rapes committed by juveniles had more than doubled from 485 in 2002 to 1,149 in 2011 and comments that the step to change the law "will definitely pacify the public".

"The Union Cabinet deserves praise," writes The Pioneer.

"The Juvenile Justice Act in its present form provides a shield to such [juvenile] criminals, who get a maximum of three years in a reforms home for even the worst barbarity".

The daily hopes that parliament will approve the bill and argues that "so-called child rights activists" who oppose the changes "must be ignored in the larger social interest".

But an editorial in the Deccan Chronicle advises that "much needs to be thought over before we go ahead with basic changes".

"The real question is whether we should treat all acts of juvenile delinquency as serious crimes and lock up youngsters in the same jails as adults, given the stifling atmosphere of our criminal justice system," the paper points out.

"In rushing to amend the law on juvenile offenders above 16, the government seems to be responding to the baying of the mob rather than reason," says The Indian Express.

"How a child in need of care and protection turns into a juvenile offender is often a story of how society and its institutions have let him down. In criminalising him further, it is abdicating all its responsibility."

E-waste dump yard

The region of Delhi is "fast turning into the world's e-waste dumping yard with the capital alone getting 86% of waste generated in the developed world", the Business Standard reports, quoting a study by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

The research shows that the US accounts for the "bulk of the e-waste imports into the country", followed by China and the European Union.

DS Rawat, head of Assocham, adds that "less than 2% of India's total electronic waste gets recycled due to absence of proper infrastructure, legislation and framework".

"Dignified dress"

And finally, The Times of India reports that "a sexist comment" by an MP of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in southern India, M Murli Mohan, on how women should dress has set of "a flurry of protests".

"To uphold the tradition of our Indian culture, I would earnestly appeal to all my sisters, daughters and girls to dress dignifiedly," Mr Mohan said during a debate in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the parliament) on atrocities on women and children.

The comment made him "a butt of jokes, with people expressing outrage on his 'silly moral policing'," writes The Deccan Chronicle, adding that the MP was mocked on social media. It quotes a tweet as saying that MPs "are displaying a medieval mindset".

The paper says the protests forced Mr Mohan to apologise.

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