SC to examine immunity granted to Juveniles involved in heinous crimes; Juvenile Justice Board allowed to pronounce verdict on juvenile accused in Delhi gangrape case

SC to examine immunity granted to Juveniles involved in heinous crimes; Juvenile Justice Board allowed to pronounce verdict on juvenile accused in Delhi gangrape case

The Supreme Court today admitted a PIL [Special Leave Petition (Criminal) 1953 of 2013] filed by Dr. Subramanian Swamy, demanding that a juvenile’s culpability should be determined on his mental maturity rather than physical age. Notice has been issued to the Central government.

However the Bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam allowed the  Juvenile Justice Board to pronounce its verdict on the alleged involvement of a juvenile accused in the December 16 Delhi gangrape case.

Speaking to Live Law, Swamy said, “I am very happy with the order that has come today and this is the best thing that can be done. I think the finest Bench is hearing the matter and I am very impressed.” When asked if he was upset with the Court allowing the Juvenile Justice Board to give its verdict, swamy said, “It is totally fine. How long can a judgment be kept in waiting because a petition is pending in the Supreme Court? It will take much time for this case to be over.”

A three judge Bench consisting of the Chief Justice and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Ranjan Gogoi said the Government’s objection to Swamy’s locus standi will not stand in the way of the Court from examining the larger issue of immunity granted to a juvenile accused involved in heinous offences from being tried under the normal criminal laws.
Earlier
, Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra had questioned Swamy’s Petition on the ground that as a third party, he did not have a locus standi to intervene in a criminal matter, which is between the state and the accused.

Luthra citing the Salil Bali judgment, had also opposed any fresh judicial adjudication on the age of juveniles on the ground that the Apex Court has already decided a bunch of petitions rejecting pleas to lower the age of juveniles to 16. The Court on August 14 had reserved its order on the maintainability and locus standi.

A three judge Bench comprising of Chief Justice Altmas Kabir and Justices SS Nijjar and J Chelameswar has held in the Salil Bali case that, “This being the understanding of the Government behind the enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the amendments effected thereto in 2006, together with the Rules framed there under in 2007, and the data available with regard to the commission of heinous offences by children, within the meaning of Sections 2(k) and 2(l) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, we do not think that any interference is necessary with the provisions of the Statute till such time as sufficient data is available to warrant any change in the provisions of the aforesaid Act and the Rules. On the other hand, the implementation of the various enactments relating to children, would possibly yield better results.”

Image from here.