Should A 16-18-Year Old Juvenile Accused Of Heinous Offences Be Treated As Adult?


In a Group Discussion Test as soon as the examiner withdraws from the scene, the candidates (usually 8-12 in number) feel a bit free and relaxed. The tension is reduced to some extent and they start talking to their neighbours or to others in whispers, murmurs or asides. However, soon the tempo and noise of such small talk or conversation grows and many are found talking at the same time. This results in obvious confusion and eventually no one is able to make out who is saying what and to whom. At this stage, we find No. 5 raises his voice above the din and noise of the goings-on so that he could be heard by all and addresses the group as a whole.

No. 5 : (Displaying self-confidence and revealing a warm and friendly disposition with his cheerful, pleasant smile) Friends, please pardon my interruption and lend me your ears. May I have your kind attention for a few seconds, please ? I wish to make a small announcement which is of equal importance to all in the Group. (The confident and assured manner in which No. 5 spoke and his friendly and courteous approach at once ensures silence and order in the Group. All asides and cross-talks cease and all eyes are turned towards No. 5. Since he said that he had some announcement to mahe which would be of interest to all, the curiosity and eagerness of the group is aroused. All are motivated to listen to him with keenness and concentration).

No. 2 : Yes, Mr. No. 5. We are ready. You said you have something special and important for all of us. Please go ahead and tell us about it.

No. 7 : That is right. We are quite keen to know. Gentlemen, let us all pay attention to No. 5. No noise please.

No. 5 : Thank you friends. (Turning towards No. 2 and No. 7) Thank you Nos. 2 and 7 for your cooperation and help. First of all, I want to draw your attention to the fact that we as a Group consisting of the eight of us, have a task before us which we have to complete or achieve, I mean, a target has been set to us as a Group to be achieved within a specified or given time frame. Thus, within a set time-limit we have to complete our task successfully

No. 4 : I say there is no definite time limit. The examiner said we can take 25 to 30 minutes. Therefore, it is flexible.

No. 5 : (Smiling in a friendly manner) That is right, No. 4. You are correct. You will then agree that we must complete our task or assignment within that time limit. Shall we say the maximum limit is 30 minutes ?

No. 4 : I say, what is the difficulty in that ? What is your problem ? When the examiner tells us to stop, we can stop. (He looks around to see whether the examiner is there in the rear somewhere but does not find him) Well, I don’t see any problem. I wonder whether any of you in the Group, of course No. 5 excepted, feels there is any difficulty in completing this so-called task within the given time of 25 to 30 minutes.

No. 2 : Hey No. 4! Why don’t you keep quiet for a while and allow No. 5 to tell us whatever he has in mind ?

No. 4 : You shut up, No. 2. Who the hell are you to order me about ? Who do you think you are ? I have every right to talk and say what I feel like.

No. 7 : Please cool down No. 4. No offence is meant. Let us first listen to No. 5 and then come out with our views and ideas. Please, go ahead No. 5.

No. 5 : Friends, our task, as you are all aware, is to have a friendly discussion on the subject “Should A 16-18-Year Old Juvenile Accused Of Heinous Offences Be Treated As Adult ?” A discussion on the subject implies that all the participants should express their views and exchange ideas on the subject. For the eight of us in the Group to express our views would need time. We also need time for each to comment on the views expressed by others. Therefore, we must all agree and come to a quick understanding as to how exactly we are going to tackle the matter.

No. 4 : I say, it is all beyond me and I don’t understand a bit. You seem to confuse us for nothing. What do you think we were doing before you intervened and asked us to hear your views ? We were just discussing the subject. I was asking the ideas of No. 3 and was explaining my views to him. I am sure others were also similarly comparing notes. Maybe you didn’t have anyone to talk to. Maybe we would have continued with our discussion and but for your interruption, completed the task in time. You Hook us for a ride by alluding to something quite important. It is all a waste of time.

No. 5 : (Smilingpleasantly to the surprise of No. 4) You may be right No. 4. Perhaps, you expressed your views to No. 3 and he gave his reactions to the same, all right. But what about the rest of us ? Don’t you want the others in


the Group also to know your ideas ? I am certainly interested in knowing your views on the topic.

No. 7 : Yes, sure. So also the rest of us in the Group and I want to know the views of everyone. Similarly, I want everyone to listen to my own views as well.

No. 4 :1 say, if I was talking to No. 3, my neighbour, I am sure others did the same. No. 7 must have spoken to No. 8 or No. 6. Thus, all of us were discussing the subject.

No. 5 : No one denies that No. 4. But it means that the discussion was limited to two each and was done in sub-groups. No. 8 is sitting across, right opposite to you. No. 1 or No. 7 could hear his views. But what about yourself and myself ? Don’t you think that each member should share his views with all the rest in the Group simultaneously. We would also definitely like to react to your views and make comments.

No. 4 : What do you mean by reacting to my views or making comments ? How does it matter ?

No. 7 : (Intervenes with a smile) May I explain, please ? It means we all listen to you first and understand what you say. If several people speak at the same time, no one will be able to understand anything. Hence, only one must speak at a time. Next, we may agree or may not agree with what you say. We may also have our own ideas on the subject. There will be other comments. No. 5 called it the reaction of others.

No. 6 : I have an idea. I mean, we can have a debate.

No. 2 : You mean we elect a chairman, divide ourselves into two groups, one supporting the proposition and the other opposing it.

No. 4 : I would like to be the chairman.

No. 2 : That is not left to you. I said the Group will elect a chairman.

No. 4 : I don’t care as to what you say, I am going to be the chairman, no matter what you say.

No. 7 : Please, gentlemen, I am afraid we are off the track. No. 5 was about to make proposal as to how we can go about our task and complete it in time. Come on No. 5. Let us have your proposal.

No. 5 : Thank you. We have already taken a lot of time and electing a chairman and mover of the proposition and finalising other formalities will require a lot more of time which we cannot afford. Moreover, you would remember the examiner mentioning that we can have this discussion in an informal, friendly manner without going in for the niceties of a formal debate. I, therefore, suggest a simple procedure. Let each candidate addressAhe group as a whole for two minutes in the first


O penness, candour and friendly approach send positive and powerful signals about you and your leadership capability.

instance. Everyone is to get a turn. We can start with No. 1, move on to Nos. 2, 3, 4 and so on, till No. 8 gets his turn and the round is completed.

No. 7 : Very good idea. I am sure you all agree.

Nos. 2 and 6 : Yes, yes. It is okay.

(No. 4 seems undecided and maintains silence.)

No. 1 : Please, please, I don’t want to speak first. Rather I will speak last. Let someone start first.

No. 4 : No, no, that won’t do. It will upset the arrangements outlined by No. 5.

No. 5 : Please don’t worry. No. 4. We can start with anyone who volunteers to be the opening speaker. If you volunteer, you can be the first speaker, we can start with you and end up with No. 3. Otherwise, we can proceed anti­clockwise and after you, it will be the turn of No. 3, then No. 2, then 1, 8, 7 till I get the turn as the last speaker.

No. 4 : I never said that I am volunteering to speak first. I think we should stick to your original idea and begin with No. i.

No. 7 : I suggest we start with No. 2. His turn comes after No. 1. After No. 2, we move on to No. 3, 4, 5 and so on and complete the first round with No. 1.

No. 5 : That is very good. Come on No. 2. Please express your views on the subject.

Comments : During the preliminary stage, we find a number of candidates displaying initiative and taking part in the deliberations. First of all, No. 5 starts the ball rolling. He succeeds in creating a favourable impact on the group and he motivates and sways others to his side by presenting his case with tact, patience and persistence. No. 4 who is keen to assert his authority, interferes and displays opposition. But Nos. 2 and 7 come to the aid of-No. 5. In particular, No. 7 proves very effective with his tacful, persuasive and firm approach. He is able to find solutions whenever the Group is confronted with a problem. No. 2 lends strong support to No. 5, but in his enthusiasm and eagerness adopts a collision course with No. 4. No. 1 appears to be of a docile and dull type. He wastes the opportunity offered to him on a platter. No. 6 seems a bit confused. No. 4 persists in displaying a negative and confrontational approach. In addition, he is averse to shoulder responsibility. We find him spurning the opportunity when he is offered to open the discussion as the first speaker. No. 5 remains cool and counters provocations with patience and cheerfulness. He tackles opposition with reason, logic and understanding. The support given by No. 7 to 5 in achieving the group task is consistent and effective. Nos. 3 and 8 have not made any contribution and have chosen to remain silent observers. Nos. 5 and 7 have emerged as strong leaders with No. 2 as a good supporter. No. 4 is strong and keen but plays a negative role.

No. 2 : Friends, the topic “Should A 16-18-Year Old Juvenile Accused Of Heinous Offences Be Treated As Adult ?” has been given to us due to the consensus of the Rajya Sabha regarding a new Juvenile Justice Bill which was passed on December 22, 2015. The Bill allows 16 to 18 years old, accused of heinous offences, to be tried as adult. This has paved the way for a new juvenile justice system in which the criminal culpability will now be 16 years, subject to some conditions. If we look for detail, we will see that the Bill had been in the making for years, but became a flashpoint after the Delhi gang-rape of 2012. In this gang-rape, one of the perpetrators was a youth, six months short of 18 years. His three-year period in a reformation home ended on December 20, 2015. His freedom brought the crowds and also the family of the rape victim to India Gate to urge that the juvenile perpetrators should not walk free. If we remember, a horrendous gang-rape had been committed in December 2012 by six people in the heart of the country, Delhi and stirred the popular conscience in such a way that not only India, but the whole world including the United Nations, also got upset. In this way, the chain of protests culminated in a countrywide demand for adequate measures to be taken for the safety of women coupled with the harshest punishment for the perpetrators of such heinous crimes. “Damini” or “Nirbhaya” (the fictitious’names for the victim who died after 13 days) became a symbol of the honour of woman in general who has historically been losing her life on the altar of abominable lust of men for ages. As several political organisations and civil society had started demanding harsher punishment and speedier justice in rape cases, the Union Government constituted the Verma Panel to suggest changes in laws relating to sexual offences against women. In its recommendations, the Panel ruled out death sentence or castration for rapists which, to my mind, is not the right judgment or suggestion. To my mind, all the suggestions made by Ms. Jayalalithaa in her 13-point plan which included death penalty and chemical castration also would go a long way in awakening the country. Rapists deserve nothing less than death or castration with life sentence, I think.


Besides, the Panel also suggested that the perpetrators below 18 years of age should not be treated as adults. There is one provision in the recent Bill that had been contentious from the start—that juveniles aged between 16 and 18 years who are accused of heinous offences (for which there is a sentence of seven or more years under Indian Panel Code) can be tried under adult laws. This particular provision had been rejected by the aforementioned Parliamentary Standing Committee. The present Bill has provided for treating them as adults and that is necessary.

Comments : No. 2 has understood the subject and grasped the essentials. He is sincere and succeeds in winning over his audience. He has displayed initiative and made reasonable use of the opportunity offered to him. He enjoys a fair range of ideas and puts across his views with force and confidence. Selected.

No. 3 : Friends, I really do not know what to say as far as the topic is concerned. For one thing I am sure, if people are saying that rapists should be hanged till death, there may be some good logic behind it. Similarly, those, who object to the idea of death sentence or chemical castration, must have some strong points, otherwise they must not have raised their voice against it. We are expressing a layman’s concern, not an expert opinion. If the law-makers think that Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2015 which says perpetrators aged between 16 and 18 years should not walk free, it is all right. Those in power, whoever they may be, are the decision-makers and their decisions are always serious, because every decision has its own logic and basis. I consider myself ignorant as far as discussion on such topics is concerned, because I stand nowhere near the people who are supposed and authorised to speak on matters which have legal implications.

Comments : No. 3 has not come out with any original views or ideas on the subject. He has decided to hide his lack of conviction by talking about the issue in a vague language. He has not made any noticeable impact on the group. Rejected.

No, 4 : Well, gentlemen, I would like to interrupt. As far as I am concerned I do not believe in elected government and the idea of democracy. Democracy is the worst form of governance, because in democracy, you are not at liberty to form your own idea and let the people accept it, unless you form an idea keeping in mind the views of others. To introduce a legislation that can provide for a direct and stringent action against serious wrongdoing is easy, but to implement it is very difficult. If wrongdoers had feared law, Nirbhaya would not have had to undergo any physical and mental torture. If you want


Instinctively, they rise to the occasion to steer the ship through the choppy waves to a safe haven. That is the work of the captain. In GD, too, as the cross talks arid asides leave the clock ticking away fast to the deadline, someone conscious of the work on hand volunteers to bring order out of chaos by appealing to all the participants to see reason and come out with their contribution to accomplish the task in an efficient manner within the allotted time. With better qualities of restraint, patience and foresight, the leader inspires all to give their views on the subject given, without puncturing the ego of even the most recalcitrant elements in the group.

that people should follow the way you choose, you should be given the requisite power to make them yield to your views. Democracy never approves of such a way.

Comments : We have already found that this candidate is aggressive, rigid and displays marked negative traits. He has a tendency to quarrel and fightfor selfish reasons. His views do not reflect logic or reason but prove to be mere self-opinionated assertions. He is unable to understand others and cooperate with them. He remains adamant and selfish. He will create clashes, engage in fights and hinder the achievement of the objectives of the organisation. Rejected.

No. 5 : The topic, “Should A 16-18- Year Old Juvenile Accused Of Heinous Offences Be Treated As Adult ?” is very pertinent and serious, given the state of affairs in our society. Actually, the whole issue was highlighted after the Nirbhaya incident and what transpired after it, i.e. the public protests and nationwide anger brought to light the ugly, or rather rotting interior of our society. We should have a befitting solution to this endemic. In all likelihood, the political class or the Government wanted to have speedy closure by ensuring the “maximum punishment” for the men who fatally assaulted the hapless woman inside a bus that sped along one of the busiest roads of Delhi. I do not say that they should not have been punished. They committed such a heinous crime that cannot be forgiven at any cost by any means. But we should try to fix the fractures and fissures in the system as well as society. I mean to say that hanging or castrating the rapists cannot eradicate the grievous ill that is plaguing our society, or for that matter, the system which is prevailing. Even if our legislators, in a fit of conveniently misplaced concern, prescribe the death penalty or chemical castration for rape, the pathology we are dealing with will persist. The responses of a number of the framers and implementers of the law since the incident took place, i.e. December 2012, showed how many of them were themselves complicit in the patriarchy that produces, sanctions and makes excuses for violence against women. Their complicity is evident from not just the foul statements but in the silences and compromises of senior politicians and officials who have been at the helm of the system that is struggling hard to survive. The system has completely failed to ensure security of and justice to women across the country. I mean to say that there are sufficient laws to deal with rape and sexual assault, but not the police, judiciary and leaders in the actual sense, that can work them effectively. This leaderless vacuum must be filled so that such incidents do not take place again and again.

So far as the consensus on passing the Juvenile Justice Bill in the Rajya Sab ha which allows 16 to 18 years old, accused of heinous crimes, to be tried as adults is concerned, I am of the view that it should not have happened. The changes proposed in the new J.J. Bill were rejected by a parliamentary committee headed by the late Justice J.S. Verma and in 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed as many as eight public petitions asking for the age being lowered to 16. I think that we should honour the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It requires all the signatory countries to treat every child under 18 as equal. Millions of school dropouts, like the juvenile convict, who become social outcasts are sucked into criminalisation in the absence of opportunities to better their life. It should be a concern for society. At that, no scientific evidence suggests that adolescents between 16 and 18 have the maturity to grasp the consequences of their deeds.

Comments : No. 5 is a very able, alert and intelligent candidate with a dynamic and pragmatic approach. His views are result- oriented and. practical. We have seen him taking the initiative, accepting responsibilities and meeting all challenges with courage, imagination and competence. His attitude is positive and constructive. He has made a very strong and favourable impact on the Group and has emerged as its strongest natural leader. Selected with top ranking.

No. 6 : The topic of discussion is a progression of the public response to the tragic death of the 23-year-old girl, “Damini” or “Nirbhaya”. The consensus on Juvenile Justice Bill 2015 making juveniles aged between 16 and 18 liable to be treated as adults has only reminded people of that sordid act. The public response was immediate and spontaneous. Nevertheless, I want to say that we seem to be caught between an illiberal, insensitive political class and a rampaging mob demanding instant solutions, with only a thin line drawn between the two. The gang-rape should have been understood as a complex socio-political issue resulting as much from bad policing as from deep-rooted idea of female purity and honour. The Indian society is inveterately patriarchal which is intolerant of liberalised women, behind the facade of enlightenment and modernity. The frequent rapes and honour killings are nothing but violent infestations of our male mindset. Most feminist groups which genuinely act in interests of rape victims have strongly rejected the death penalty as the answer to rape. They do so because of the fact that it invests the rape with precisely the power that makes it so fearsome. Besides, it will further lower the conviction rate in rape cases. They see the political class’s shrill articulation of the death penalty demand as a hollow token of sympathy. Everybody knows that the political parties simply try to divert the people’s attention from the actual malaise. Most of them actually have the archaic notions. An Andhra Pradesh Congress MP commented that “Freedom at Midnight (Independence) does not mean that women should roam on the streets during late hours.” The Delhi gang-rape rocked the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, but no MP spoke with intelligence and due sensitivity on the subject. Some speakers were, in fact, very funny. They spoke of rape as if it were the end of the world. Most of them wanted a law that would put all the rapists to death. An MP from Bihar held “provocative item numbers” in films responsible for such crimes. Not content with describing rape a serious and grievous offence, a former Justice- turned-politician even went to the extent of describing reason behind the rape “a cultural degradation” and absence of teaching “a code of religious conduct”. We do not need any regressive moral or religious teachings to stop rape-like happenings.’We need, in fact, to enforce the Constitutional guarantee of equality at home, at the workplace and on the streets. We need to liberate women from the fear of rape, which is treated with horror not because it is-»violent, but because it is thought to be violative. We should try tojaegih the process of


Present yourself properly at the Group Discussion. Timing is very important. Be there ten minutes early, but never one minute late. When the examiner tells the subject, listen to him carefully and attentively. Think over all pros and cons and mentally prepare yourself on the subject, as to how best you can project your viewpoint. Avoid gossips and cross-talks. Intervene effectively, if the house is in asides.

Whatever the clothes you put on, they should be clean, well pressed and smart-looking. Do not overdress. You should be comfortable with your dress. Have a smart hair-cut beforehand. A faint aroma of perfume, or body deodorant, will not go amiss. But consciously avoid overdoing it. Your voice should be friendly and clear. Do not use any provocative or unfriendly word during the discussion. Your selection of words should be perfect. Be bold, straightforward and, at the same time, remain polite.

destigmatisation and demystification of rape by dissociating it from words like “honour”, “violation”, “defilement”, “disgrace”, etc. Rape should be treated as a serious offence like murder. The perpetrators of such crimes of any age can be punished in any way that does not matter at all. Nor does lowering of age make any difference. They can be hanged, castrated or punished anyway, change of mindset is as necessary as punishment.

Comments : This candidate has grasped the subject and come forward to offer some original views. He has displayed adequate mental strength and courage to differ from the other candidates. His arguments are linked to logical reasoning and rationale. Once warmed up, he is ready to meet the challenge with confidence. Recommended for selection.

No. 7 : Well, we have discussed the topic a lot and expressed our views in a very explicit manner. Some contradictions and disparity made the discussion all the more interesting and worth listening to, too. To my mind, if majority of people find the punishment, i.e. death penalty or castration and imprisonment and lowering of age for the perpetrators to be tried as adults to 16 suitable they are not wrong. The legal process, however, really takes too much time and forces people to lose faith in the legal system which does not seem justified. As our friend, No. 6, has suggested the solution and that can be a way. But that cannot be achieved in a day or overnight. There should be an emphasis on moral education from Class I to the Master’s level. Regular seminars and public preachings can also make the job simple. Elderly people should be allotted the job of educating the young boys about the importance of moral uplift.

Comments : We find no force in No. 7’s statement, as he has not spoken anything on the subject in question. Though he is very intelligent, imaginative and articulate, he has not tried to throw any light on the issue in question. He advanced very strong, and weighty arguments in support of moral education and ethical values but he has not dwelt on the given topic that deals with the punishment for the crime. As he has digressed from the topic, his arguments have proved of no avail to the group. The group was interested in knowing his opinion about the subject, not in his views on the importance of moral education. He cannot be considered for selection, because for leadership qualities, concentration on the target to be achieved is necessary. Rejected.

No. 8 : Friends, I really wonder that educated people like us discuss this worthless topic which does not deserve any attention at all. First, let me know if any of us is interested in joining politics. As t think nobody will be willing to join even in the least. Leave the affairs of punishment to the politicians and legal experts and let them decide what method should be adopted. As far as my personal views are concerned, I want to say that it hardly matters to me if rapists aged 16-18 are hanged or castrated. If you think that it will result in something significant, you are really very immature.

Comments : No. 8 has spoken for the first time. He seems rather aloof and rigid. He is not keen in cooperating with others. He prefers to go his own way irrespective of the views, feelings, wishes and aspirations of others. Hence, this rigid and narrow-minded candidate is not suited for the role of a successful team leader. Rejected.

No. 1 : Friends, I am really thankful to you all, because you have carried out the discussion in such an interesting manner that I could not help listening to the discussion from the very beginning to the end. I agree, more or less, with all of you and appreciate your ideas.

Comments : A dull candidate who lacks ideas and enterprise. Rejected.    rglf)


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