NEW DELHI: A Juvenile Justice Board’s order to treat the juvenile accused in the Mercedes hit-and-run case as an adult comes after the Centre tweaked the law dealing with minors last year.
At present, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, governs the law on dealing with juvenile delinquents.
It was passed by Parliament on December 23 last year and permits juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 years to be tried as adults in cases of heinous offences. The new law replaced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and deals with children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
This amended law gives the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) the power to decide whether the juvenile delinquents can be treated as an adult. It says that a preliminary inquiry is to be conducted by the JJB to determine whether a juvenile offender is to be sent for rehabilitation or be tried as an adult.
The demand to lower the age limit of juveniles to 16 years first surfaced after the infamous December 16, 2012, gang rape where one of the six assailants was found to be 17 years old. The boy then was, as per law, sentenced to three years in a juvenile home, as opposed to the death penalty for four other offenders.
Over the years, various courts had recommended reviewing the earlier Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, due to the increasing number of cases of juveniles being involved serious crimes.
In April last year, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to take a re-look at the juvenile law and make it more deterrent at least in cases of grave offences. It had noted that the involvement of juveniles in heinous crimes, such as murder and rape, was increasing.