Millennium Post

SC turns down plea to reduce juvenile age from 18 to 16 years

The Supreme Court has refused to lower the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years. Passing an order on Wednesday, the apex court held the present provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act did not need any interference from the court and dismissed a Public Interest Litigation demanding reduction of the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years. The Act provides differential treatment to a minor irrespective of the nature of crime committed by him or her.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice S S Nijjar and Justice Chelameswar said, ‘We uphold the provisions of the Act .... Interference in the law is not necessary’. Referring to the 16 December gangrape case, the court said, ‘it was an aberration rather than the rule.’ The bench rejected one of the PILs filed in the apex court seeking 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 minor till he attains the age of 18 years.

Various petitions in the apex court had sought amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act, contending that the Act should be amended and a minor, involved in heinous crimes, should not be protected under the law. Among other things, petitions had also sought that punishment for heinous crime committed by a minor should not be decided by the Juvenile Justice Board. During the hearing in the case, various child activists had opposed the plea of reducing age of juveniles from 18 to 16 years and the juveniles be tried as adults for severe offences.

These petitions were filed in the court in the wake of brutal gangrape and torture of a paramedical girl in a moving bus, in which one of the accused later turned out to be a juvenile.
Investigations in the 16 December gangrape case hinted at the brutal role of the juvenile accused in the brutal gangrape case. Police said that the role of the juvenile among other five adult accused was most brutal.

The victim of the gangrape case succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital where she was airlifted from Safdarjung hospital in national capital after her condition deteriorated.
The trial of five adult accused (now four as the main accused Ram Singh had committed suicide in Tihar Jail) in the case is going on in a trial court, while the case of the juvenile is being heard by a Juvenile Justice Board, which is likely to pronounce its verdict on juvenile on 25 July.
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