Dec 16 gangrape: Centre says juvenile accused canít be tried twice
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Responding to a petition filed by the father of the 23-year-old woman who was gangraped aboard a moving bus on December 16, 2012, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said there was no question of a second round of trial once the guilt of the accused, who was a juvenile at time of the incident, had already been determined in accordance with the Juvenile Justice Act.
"Under Article 20 of the Constitution as also Section 300 of Criminal Procedure Code, there can be no second trial for the same offence, and the adjudication of guilt of the juvenile offender having been determined by the JJ (Juvenile Justice) Board under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the second prayer does not survive nor was sustainable," the Ministry said in its affidavit.
The government also asserted that the objective of the juvenile law was to establish a separate system of justice, care and protection for children and that traditional objectives of criminal justice ó retribution and repression ó must give way to rehabilitative and restorative objectives of juvenile justice.
It also opposed the father's challenge to the constitutional validity of Act for letting juveniles escape with light punishment for heinous offences. It pointed out that the law was based on the principle of non-stigmatising semantics, decisions and actions.
The issue came up for hearing before a bench led by Justice B S Chauhan Monday, which tagged this petition with the similar plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and others, who have also sought fresh interpretation of the term juvenile.
Swamy has also contended that the Juvenile Justice Act provides for a "straitjacket" interpretation of the term 'juvenile'. He also said the interpretation was in violation of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Beijing Rules on the issue.
The UNCRC and Beijing Rules say the presumption of "the age of criminal responsibility" be fixed while "bearing in mind the mental and intellectual maturity" of offender, Swamy had said.
Raising an identical issue, the victim's father had said the August 31, 2013, verdict of the Board was not acceptable to the family and so they were challenging the constitutional validity of the Act, as there is no other authority concerned to which they could approach for relief.