The Rajya Sabha today passed the Juvenile Justice Bill, which seeks to lower the age bar for prosecuting those involved in heinous crimes to 16 years from the existing 18 years, so as to ensure that even 16-year-olds, if involved in such crimes, will be prosecuted like adults.
The bill was taken up against the backdrop of uproar over the release of a juvenile convict in the heinous gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old girl on 16 December 2012.
The Rajya Sabha took up for discussion the juvenile justice amendment bill, a day after members cutting across party lines agreed that the important legislation should be taken up immediately.
"I am satisfied, but sad that my daughter couldn't get justice," Nirbhaya's mother said after passage of the bill.
"Juvenile Justice Bill which has been passed in RS is a tribute to our daughter," Nirbhaya's father said.
Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi who had moved the bill said, "I'm happy that everyone supported the Juvenile Justice Bill and want to thank everyone."
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, provides for the trial of those between 16-18 years as adults for heinous offences. Also, anyone between the age of 16-18 who commits a less serious offence may be tried as an adult if he is apprehended after he attains the age of 21.
The Rajya Sabha approved the landmark law allowing the trial of criminals between 16 and 18 years as adults three years after the brutal sexual assault on a paramedic student in Delhi.
However, the amended sections of the Juvenile Justice Act will have no bearing on the juvenile convict of the 16 December 2012 case, who was released from a care home on Monday.
The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), however, will determine if the offender should be tried as an adult.
The Upper House saw a lengthy discussion, during which the Congress and the Trinamool withdrew their notices for sending the bill to a Rajya Sabha select committee.
Congress leaders admitted there were serious differences within the party on the bill while Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien said the current bill was not the best one.