Those aged 16 years are quite well developed to involve themselves in serious crimes. The society needs care and protection against them, says the PIL

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the central government on a petition seeking to exclude from the purview of the Juvenile Justice Act those above 16 years committing serious crimes like rape and murder.

A division bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain issued the notice through the ministries of parliamentary affairs and law and justice, and asked them to file their response by Feb 14.

The public interest litigation (PIL) sought to declare as ultra vires some provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, alleging that recent incidents showed that those aged 16 years were involved in “serious crimes” and are “quite well developed”.

“They do not need the care and protection of the society, rather the society needs care and protection against them,” read the PIL.

Advocate R K Kapoor said if juveniles above 16 years were involved in “heinous crime” like rape and murder, they should not be treated as juveniles and be given harsher punishment like adults.He added that those above 16 should not be allowed to escape “life term” and “death penalty”.The petition also seeks a direction for amendment to the act to provide for harsher punishment to the rape convicts.Appearing for the central government, Additional Solicitor General Rajiv Mehra told the court that he “will take instruction from the government for quashing of certain provisions in the JJ Act.” Mehra submitted that “Justice J.S. Verma Committee has already been constituted for the purpose”.

The government has set up a three-member Justice J.S. Verma Committee to give recommendations on amending laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in sexual assault cases.

The PIL would also be significant in the Dec 16 gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in Delhi, where the investigation has revealed that a minor, claiming to be 17, was allegedly the “most brutal” among the six accused.The petition was filed by a woman advocate lawyer, Shweta Kapoor, who noted that Section 16 of the JJ Act deals with the order which cannot be passed against a juvenile, including “sentence to death or life imprisonment”. “Issue direction declaring the provisions of Section 16(1) (1st part without proviso), the proviso to subsection 2 of Section 16, …of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, as ultra vires to the constitution..,” the PIL said. It stated that the provision also says that delinquents above 16 years shall be kept in special homes away from other minors and the period of detention would be of three years.Another provision, however, says that a juvenile can only be kept at the special home till he attains 18 years of age.    –IANS

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