Delhi child rights panel moves SC against JJ Act amendments
The amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 were cleared by Parliament last year and received the presidential assent in August 2021. The amendments have not come into operation.
NEW DELHI: The Delhi child rights panel has approached the Supreme Court challenging the amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 (JJ Act) that categoriee certain offences committed against children to be non-cognizable.
Non-cognizable offences cannot be investigated by the police unless directed to do so by a magistrate’s court. Some of the offences made non-cognizable carry a maximum punishment of up to seven years imprisonment and include sale and procurement of children, exploitation of child employee, employment of children for child begging, use of children for any purpose by militant groups, cruelty committed upon children by the staff of Child Care Institutions (CCI), smuggling or trafficking narcotics, and giving intoxicating liquor or narcotic drug to a child.
The amendments to the 2015 Act were cleared by Parliament last year and received the presidential assent in August 2021. The amendments have not come into operation.
In its petition filed last week, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) said, “There are 29 amendments carried out in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 by the JJ (Amendment) Act, 2021. Section 26 of the Amendment Act categorizes offences with imprisonment for a term of three years and above, but not more than seven years as non-cognizable.”
Terming these offences as “serious”, the DCPCR petition filed through advocate Prateek K Chadha said that the amendment has resulted in “denuding the police of powers to investigate and arrest the offenders” and places an “undue, unfair and unjustifiable burden on minor victims to come forward and report the commission of a serious offence.”
Such categorization, the DCPCR said, violates the rights of children under Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution of India and s contrary to the scheme of the JJ Act which seeks to protect children against all forms of exploitation.
The petition, which was filed on May 11, also said that only offences punishable with imprisonment up to three years are categorized as non-cognizable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“There is no reasonable justification or rational nexus sought to be achieved by reclassifying the cognizable offences as non-cognizable offences,” the Delhi child rights panel said.
On April 8, the DCPCR wrote to the Centre registering its strong protest against the amendments in question but received no response for over a month.
The Delhi rights panel has received support in this regard from five other state rights panel, namely Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Union Territory of Chandigarh. These commissions have requested the government to withdraw the amendments.