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JJB to defer order? SC to hear plea on who is a juvenile

In what could put on hold the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) ruling on a minor who is standing trial for the December 16 gangrape in Delhi

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: July 24, 2013 3:20 am

In what could put on hold the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) ruling on a minor who is standing trial for the December 16 gangrape in Delhi,the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy to inform the board about the pendency of the proceedings before it.

“You can inform the Juvenile Board that we are seized of the matter,” a bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said when told that the board was going to pronounce its order on July 25.

Adjourning the matter,the bench asked Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra to get proper instructions on the matter,which has challenged the “straitjacket” formula to provide immunity to all juvenile accused.

Last week,another bench led by the then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir had dismissed similar prayers made in a bunch of eight petitions.

Swamy has demanded a judicial interpretation of the Juvenile Justice Act since the objective of the Act,he claimed,could never have been to protect persons like the juvenile accused in the Delhi gangrape case.

Such a “blanket protection” solely on the basis of age,he contended,abridged the right to life,right to free and fair trial and the rights of a victim,which formed part of Article 21 (fundamental right to life and personal liberty).

“It is submitted that the Act was never intended to cover hardened criminals,who have nothing redeemable about their behaviour (and have often repeatedly committed heinous offences) and whose crime,like the instant crime (gangrape) alleged to have been committed,partakes of such an experienced diabolical nature that it is not that of a child,nor can any person who has committed it,ever be accepted as a child,” his petition stated.

Swamy’s earlier attempts before the JJB and the Delhi High Court for prosecution of the juvenile accused along with the five adult accused had failed,prompting him to move the apex court.

Requesting the Supreme Court to read down the provisions of the Act so as to permit authorities to determine the culpability of a juvenile accused on several factors and not just age,Swamy referred to the case of the juvenile accused in the gangrape case. He said in the current case scenario,the juvenile will get a maximum of three years in a special school.

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