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SC rejects PIL for reducing juvenile age

Live Law News Network
18 July 2013 10:51 AM GMT
SC rejects PIL for reducing juvenile age
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The Supreme Court refused to direct the Centre to amend the Juvenile Justice Act for reducing the age of a juvenile from 18 to 16 years. The apex court dismissed the PIL seeking directions to the Centre for amending the Act and refused to admit any changes in the existing juvenile law.

A three judge Bench comprising of CJI Altamas Kabir, S S Nijjar and J Chelameswar said, "The age of eighteen has been fixed on account of the understanding of experts in child psychology and behavioural patterns that till such an age the children in conflict with law could still be redeemed and restored to mainstream society, instead of becoming hardened criminals in future. There are, of course, exceptions where a child in the age group of sixteen to eighteen may have developed criminal propensities, which would make it virtually impossible for him/her to be reintegrated into mainstream society, but such examples are not of such proportions as to warrant any change in thinking, since it is probably better to try and re-integrate children with criminal propensities into mainstream society, rather than to allow them to develop into hardened criminals, which does not augur well for the future."

The petitioner contended that a person should not be allowed to get away with serious crimes simply because of his age. "To absolutely take away the judicial discretion in judging the offence by a juvenile up to 18 years of age is contrary to the criminal justice system", said the Petition.

This issue has heated up in the aftermath of the December 16th Delhi gang-rape case. One of the accused who savagely attacked a 23-year-old para medical student in a moving bus is likely to get away with the crime which falls in the category of the rarest of the rare cases only because he was below 18 years of age when the crime was committed. The juvenile accused, who can get a maximum of 3 years in a reformation home, will now get the verdict from Juvenile Justice Board on July 25.

The Supreme Court had admitted the PIL to lower the age filed by two lawyers Kamal Kumar Pandey and Sukumar Choudhary in February this year.

The Apex Court opined that the Act does not call for any amendment and the rights of the children below 18 years must be protected.

 Click Here To Download Judgment

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