SC refuses to reduce juvenile age from 18 to 16 years
New Delhi: Upholding provisions of the Juvenile Act, the Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down a plea to reduce age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years.
The apex court also noted that the Juvenile Justice Board will try the accused even in the cases of heinous crimes.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said that interference in the Juvenile Justice Act is not necessary and dismissed a batch of PILs which were filed in the aftermath of the December 16 brutal gang-rape and murder case in which a minor was also allegedly involved.
“We uphold the provisions of the Act… Interference in the law is not necessary,” the bench said while reading out operative part of its judgement.
The SC’s order is a setback for those seeking harsh punishment for the minor accused in December 16 gang-rape case.
In the wake of the huge hue and cry over the alleged involvement of the minor in the December 16 case, a batch of PILs was filed in the apex court pleading that the Act should be amended and a minor, involved in heinous crimes, should not be protected under the law.
The plea in the apex court was opposed by various child activists, including former chairman of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) Amod Kanth.
One of the PILs filed in the apex court had sought examination of the constitutional validity of the provision defining juvenile in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which treats a person as a minor till he attains the age of 18 years.
The petition had contended that Sections 2(k), 10 and 17 of the Act which deal with the issue were irrational and ultra-vires of the Constitution.
The petitions had also submitted that the Act needs amendment as it does not talk about the physical or mental maturity of a juvenile.
Another petition had sought appointment of a criminal psychologist to determine through clinical and medical examination if the juvenile accused in a case would be a threat to the society.
A Juvenile Justice Board is trying the minor accused in the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapist intern in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012.
The Juvenile Justice Board will on July 25 give its decision on the role of the minor accused in the gang-rape case.
Following the Delhi gang-rape case, a demand had been raised by some groups that a juvenile’s age limit be lowered from 18 to 16 years and juvenile delinquents should be tried as adults for severe offences.