Rape case sparks possible law review in India

THE Indian Government is considering treating 17-year-olds as adults in violent crimes, potentially exposing a juvenile involved in the horrific New Delhi gang-rape to the murder penalty.

Reports in Indian media on Monday revealed the country's Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath was considering the changes to the Juvenile Justice Act.

The minister has been reviewing the laws and is considering upping the punishment of minors found guilty of heinous crimes to include the death penalty.

"We can have a provision by which six months or a year of the juvenile's age can be waived if the crime committed is severe in nature, like in this case," Minister Tirath told The Times of India.

"If the juvenile has committed a violent or serious crime he can be tried under law as an adult."

Under the current laws, a minor convicted of rape or murder can only be jailed for up to three years.

Indian women's rights advocates welcomed the proposed changes, but thousands of people were still taking to the streets in protests across the sub-continent.

The Times also reported the government was considering holding off on the trial of the 17-year-old boy until he turned 18, to exercise the full force of the adult penalties.