Supreme Court refuses to reduce age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years

CourtSupreme Court. (IE Photo)

The Supreme Court today refused to reduce the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years and dismissed a plea that minors involved in heinous crimes should not be protected under the law.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said that interference in Juvenile Justice Act is not necessary and dismissed a batch of PILs which were filed in the aftermath of the December 16 brutal gangrape 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.

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.

On December 16, last year, a 23-year-old girl was brutally gangraped and assaulted in a moving bus allegedly by six persons, one of whom is a minor and is facing proceedings before a Juvenile Justice Board which is scheduled to pronounce its verdict on July 25.The girl had succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29.

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 17of 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.

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