The Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down the plea seeking lowering of juvenile age from 18 to 16 years and refused to admit any changes in the existing juvenile law.
The petition was filed in the context of a minor who was among those who were arrested for the gangrape, brutal assault and torture of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in Delhi December 16 last year. She later died in a Singapore hospital December 29.
Now the accused will face the maximum sentence of three years as per the Juvenile Justice Act.
It may be recalled that the juvenile age was raised to 18 from 16 years in 2000 as part of the obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was signed in 1992.
Rejecting the petition, chief justice Altamas Kabir, who headed the bench hearing the PIL, said there was no need to interfere in the matter.
The Supreme Court had admitted the PIL to lower the age by two lawyers Kamal Kumar Pandey and Sukumar Choudhary in February this year.
The petitioner had then said, "To absolutely take away the judicial discretion in judging the offence by a juvenile up to 18 years of age is contrary to the criminal justice system."
Women activists have been of the opinion that the government should try and ensure that the children do not end up committing crimes. It should rather consider changing the age limit every time a crime is committed by someone under 18.