Consider Amendment To State Act To Reduce Age Of Juvenility From 18 To 16 Yrs, J&K HC Tells State [Read Order]

Consider Amendment To State Act To Reduce Age Of Juvenility From 18 To 16 Yrs, J&K HC Tells State [Read Order]

The Central Act further provides that children between 16 and 18 years of age be tried as adults for heinous crimes. However, in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, it appears that the State Legislature has not carried out any such exercise, the court observed.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the state government to consider amending the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2013, to reduce the age of juvenility from 18 years to 16 years.

Though the Central Legislation viz. the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of the Children) Act, was amended in year 2016, by which the age of a juvenile has been brought down from 18 years to 16 years in case of heinous offences, no such amendment was carried out to the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, which is applicable in the state.

Farooq Khan, highlighting this aspect, approached the Jammu bench of the high court contending that protection given from the culpability to the criminals aged between 16 and 18 years is violative of the rights of society and the citizens guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Khan, who claimed to have served the J&K Police Organization for 34 years and minutely analyzed and study the ideology of criminals of tender age, submitted that the state legislation has put the society in a very precarious situation and it is not discernible that a person of the age of 16 years does not have the complete knowledge about the crime and he/she attains the knowledge of crime only after attaining the age of 18 years.

A bench of Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal observed: “By way of an amendment in the Central Act, the age of Juvenile has been brought down from 18 years to 16 years in case of heinous offences. The Parliament has taken into account that there is a spike in juvenile crimes as depicted by National Crimes Record Bureau Data. The Central Act further provides that Children between 16 to 18 years of age be tried as adults for heinous crimes. However, in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, it appears that the State Legislature has not carried out any such exercise.”

The bench then disposed of the writ petition with the direction to the state government to consider the issue of amending the provisions of Sections 2(m), 2(n) and Section 21 of the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2013, in so far as it pertains to the reduction of age of juvenile from 18 years to 16 years. The court also asked the state to take into account the averments made in the writ petition as well as in the context of prevalent conditions in the society as also the other relevant factors and the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2016.

Read the Order Here