SC issues notice to Centre on Juvenile Act

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a plea by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking direction for reading down certain controversial provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

Certain provisions which give blanket protection to all offenders below 18 years of age, irrespective of the gravity of the crime, have come under severe criticism from all quarters.

A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, while asking for a response from the Union government, decided to tag along Swamy’s petition with other PILs filed on the subject.

Appearing for himself, Swamy contended the juvenile law was not in consonance with developing international law as the fundamental rights of the victim under Article 21 of the Constitution were unreasonably abridged.

In a special leave petition, he raised the issue of one of the accused in the Delhi gang-rape case being declared a juvenile and given immunity despite reports that he was the most brutal among them.
Swamy said the right to life, right to free and fair trial and the rights of victim were compromised by the legally erroneous view that for a crime, even rape and pre-meditated murder, a blanket protection can be given to the juvenile accused under the Act.

“Under the garb of beneficial legislation the impugned interpretation of Section 2(k) and (l) of the Act, is unsound in that it provides a blanket protection to every person below the age of 18 years from penal prosecution in ordinary criminal courts and is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” the petition said. In his SLP, Swamy challenged an order passed by the Delhi High Court on January 23 declining to interfere in the matter then pending before the Juvenile Justice Board.

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