India lowers crime trial age to 16 after Delhi gang rape furore

NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – India passed legislation lowering the age at which someone can be tried for rape and other crimes to 16, spurred into action by an uproar over the release of a minor convicted in a 2012 fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus.

Parents of the victim had led demand for amendments to the law after their daughter was repeatedly raped and beaten by the 17-year-old minor as well as five adult companions. The woman died of her injuries two weeks later at a Singapore hospital.

Four adults in the case, which drew worldwide condemnation, were sentenced to death while the fifth hanged himself in prison. The death penalties have yet to be carried out.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said on Tuesday the legislation aimed to strike a balance between the rights of a child and the need to deter heinous juvenile crimes, especially against women.

“Juvenile crime is the fastest rising segment in the country and the bill will help to stop (this),” she said. “The new law will decide whether a child committed the crime in a childish or adult frame of mind.”

India’s upper house of parliament passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill by a voice vote, paving the way for lowering the minimum age for a criminal trial to 16 from 18, depending on the gravity of the offence.

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