The Supreme Court has issued notices to ministries of home, law and women and child development on a petition challenging certain provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act that provide for negligible punishment for juveniles irrespective of the nature crime they are convicted of.
The petition challenges the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 as "unconstitutional and contrary to general public interest" in so far as they grant undue protection to juvenile offenders involved in heinous crimes such as rape and murder.
There has been public uproar after the sixth accused in the December 16 gang rape case was declared a juvenile. Even if convicted, he would spend a maximum three years in a reformatory.
The petition filed by advocate Krishna Dev Prasad demanded that criminal responsibility of such juvenile offenders should be fixed according to their physical and mental traits and the gravity of the offence. Criminal liability can't be determined merely on the basis of a juvenile's date of birth, it added. Petitioner's counsel RR Kishore contended that unlike India, in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and several European countries juvenile offenders did not enjoy complete immunity.
A bench issued the notices on February 22 and now the matter is to be taken up for hearing on March 15.