SC to hear another plea on Juvenile Justice Act

The Supreme Court has listed for hearing on Monday a PIL that has sought declaration that certain provisions of the 2000 Juvenile Justice Act are in violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.

A Bench led by Justice K S Radhakrishnan asked the petitioners to serve a copy of their PIL to Attorney General G E Vahanvati and listed the hearing for February 4.

The PIL, filed by advocates Sukumar and Kamal Kumar Pandey, has challenged the absolute immunity to delinquents up to the age of 18 years from being prosecuted like adults despite the gravity of the crime committed by them. On a similar petition, the court has recently issued a notice to the Centre and others.

The petition has stated that this "classification/definition for all juvenile offenders up to the age of 18 years, providing blanket cover against all and every offence committed", was highly irrational. The PIL claimed that such an immunity had no reasonable nexus to the objective sought to be achieved and is contrary to and in violation of the Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India and is accordingly, unconstitutional.

The plea also took a cue from the Indian Penal Code of 1860. It said Sections 82 and 83 of the IPC represented much better classification of children since these provisions took into account not just the age but also the nature of the offences committed by them.

"Children up to the age of 7 years are totally exempted from any criminal liability and for older children, there is a judicial discretion to judge as to the maturity level of the child in respect of the offence committed," it stated.

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