SC agrees to review Juvenile Act after Delhi rape

The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to hear a petition for an amendment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, to reduce the legal age of a juvenile from 18 to 16.

Supreme CourtThe petition was filed by two advocates in the wake of the vicious gang-rape of a young woman on a Delhi bus in December that led to her death. There is considerable anguish among the public as the most vicious of the six attackers has been declared to be under 18 years old and hence could get away with a mild sentence of three years in a juvenile home.

A bench comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra decided to hear the petition filed by Kamal Kumar Pandey and Sukumar Choudhary. from 3 April, and asked attorney general G E Vahanvati to file counter-affidavits and relevant reports relating to the issue.

The petitioners contend that Sections 2(k), 10 and 17 of the Act which deal with the issue were irrational and ultra vires of the Constitution.

The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the constitutional validity of the definition of juvenile in the Act is in conflict with the law. He added that the definition of a juvenile under Sections 82 and 83 of the Indian Penal Code is a much better classification.

Section 82 provides that nothing is an offence which is done by a child under seven years of age; while Section 83 says nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve and who has not attained the maturity to understand or judge the nature and consequences of his conduct.