New Delhi, Feb 1: Against the backdrop of a debate over lowering the age of juveniles, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Friday said no such decision should be taken in “isolation”.
“People are talking about 16 years and 18 years. Legislation for protecting juveniles must be reiterated… We cannot, because of one bad example, throw away something that has been worked on for years and which is based on a huge amount of data, which has been collected,” he said at a report release function of ‘Save the Children’ here.
“This is a very difficult public issue today. I hope we find a rational, reasonable and sustainable path rather than overreact,” he said.
Following the brutal gang-rape and death of a young woman in the city, there have been demands that one of the accused, who turned out to be below 18 years, should also be given exemplary punishment at par with the others.
The Justice J.S. Verma commission, formed to look into anti-rape laws, has not recommended lowering the age limit of juveniles.
Replying to a question, Kurshid said the commission had not endorsed that the age limit of juveniles be lowered.
“So if you like the Verma commission report, you have to like everything. You have to understand why the act was done in the first place and why 18 years was taken as the age in the first place”.
“We should not react to something in isolation. We should know and be ready to understand the implications… and then take an informed decision,” he said.
“Young people are asking for some extreme measures but people who have worked for years in this campaign have come out with very different formulations,” he said.
On the protests over the Dec 16 gang-rape, he said: “I have a little concern. It is very simple to say that there is anger among people in this country.
“We may just be blinding ourselves to the truth by saying there is anger. A protest can be a protest without anger and I think it is important to understand the motivations and reasons why people come out into the streets.”
Quoting Gandhi, he said: “Gandhi’s fundamental principle was: ‘Don’t be angry when there is cause to be angry’. But he also said: ‘Don’t accept things as they are’.”