India toughens laws for juveniles on trial
India has 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 demands for changes 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 the legislation aimed to strike a balance between the rights of a child and the need to deter heinous juvenile crimes.
"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, paving the way for lowering the minimum age for a criminal trial to 16 from 18. The lower house had already passed the bill.
The release last Sunday of the teenager involved in the gang rape sparked protests by students and the victim's mother, Asha Devi.