NEW DELHI: The decision of the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to try the minor accused in the Mercedes hit-and-run case in north Delhi’s Civil Lines as an adult has evoked a slew of contrasting opinions from experts.
Some hailed it as a “right decision” and a “detriment” for unruly minors but others feel the incident was not a “heinous” one and that the accused should have been given the benefit of being a minor on the day of the incident.
Justice SN Dhingra, a retired Delhi high court judge, told HT that the April 4 even was not an accident.
“This is not an accident. If a person knows that his or her action is dangerous and likely to cause death, then it attracts charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder,” he said.
“Since he was a minor, he was not supposed to be driving the car. There was a likelihood of an untoward incident taking place and that is exactly what happened,” Justice Dhingra added.
Nidhesh Gupta, senior advocate at Supreme Court, had a different view. He said: “A heinous crime is commonly understood as one involving rape, murder, etc. where the punishment is seven years and can go up to life imprisonment or even the death sentence”.
“An offence under Section 304 cannot be regarded as a heinous crime. If such an offence is treated as heinous crime, then virtually every offence under IPC will be treated as a heinous one,” Gupta said.
He added: “The protection available to a juvenile under the JJ Act will be rendered illusory and the act itself will become virtually redundant”.
However, Sumeet Pushkarna, former Central government counsel, said it was the “right verdict” since it was a case where people who had “full knowledge of law” committed to do unlawful things.
“The spirit of the enactment has to be seen here. A detriment has to be sent to parents as well as children, because they are going with a premeditated intent and knowledge that they are underage and still doing unlawful things,” Pushkarna said.
Advocate Meera Bhatia also agreed with the verdict saying that the JJB had given the “right decision. “Anyway, it is not yet the final order. No harm in treating him as an adult,” she said.