The Supreme Court Monday directed the Centre to take a concrete stand on the controversial Juvenile Justice Act (JJ) and inform it within three weeks whether it wanted to have a re-look at the legislation that prescribes maximum jail term of three years for a delinquent juvenile.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the court wants to know whether there is any kind of consideration regarding reduction of age or whether the sentence would depend upon the nature of offence committed.
“To elaborate, whether the attention of the government will be drawn to the prevailing atmosphere that most of the juveniles are engaged in horrendous and heinous crimes like rape, murder and drug-peddling, etc,” the bench ordered, fixing November 24 to hear the matter further.
Widespread protests broke out demanding amendment in the JJ Act after the December 2012 gangrape of a paramedic in New Delhi, in which the most brutal offender was a minor. While four accused were sentenced to death, the minor escaped punishment and was sent to reformatory home for three years.
Rohatgi assured the bench that the entire “scheme of juvenility was engaging the attention of the central government.”
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda had earlier stayed the trial on a CBI appeal challenging a Calcutta High Court judgment granting juvenile status to an accused CPM worker.
Its counsel Rajeev Nanda assailed the HC order saying it had granted immunity to the juvenile despite the trial court holding him an adult on the basis of an ossification test.
The court had wondered that when a person is given the right to vote at the age of 18 years, why a person can’t be tried under the regular law for a heinous offence even if he/she is less then 18 years as he is matured enough to under the consequences of his actions.