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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

declaration of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as ultra vires the Constitution, and to strike down the provisions of Section 2(k) and (l) of the above Act, along with a prayer to bring the said Act in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution and to direct the Respondent No. 1 to take steps to make changes in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, to bring it in line with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for administration of juvenile justice. = This being the understanding of the Government behind the enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the amendments effected thereto in 2006, together with the Rules framed thereunder in 2007, and the data available with regard to the commission of heinous offences by children, within the meaning of Sections 2(k) and 2(l) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, we do not think that any interference is necessary with the provisions of the Statute till such time as sufficient data is available to warrant any change in the provisions of the aforesaid Act and the Rules. On the other hand, the implementation of the various enactments relating to children, would possibly yield better results. 50. The Writ Petitions and the Transferred Case are, therefore, dismissed, with the aforesaid observations. There shall, however, be no order as to costs.

                           published in    http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40577                       
            REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                    CIVIL/CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                      WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 10 OF 2013


1


2 SALIL BALI                                       … PETITIONER


                         VS.



           2 UNION OF INDIA & ANR.                            …
RESPONDENTS


                                    WITH
                  W.P.(C)NOS.14, 42, 85, 90 and 182 OF 2013
                                    WITH
                            W.P.(CRL)NO.6 OF 2013
                                     AND
                            T.C.(C)No. 82 OF 2013



                               J U D G M E N T



ALTAMAS KABIR, CJI.

1.    Seven Writ Petitions and one  Transferred  Case  have  been  taken  up
together for consideration in view of the commonality  of  the  grounds  and
reliefs prayed for therein.  While in Writ Petition  (C)  No.  14  of  2013,
Saurabh Prakash Vs. Union of India, and Writ Petition (C) No.  90  of  2013,
Vinay K. Sharma Vs. Union of India,  a  common  prayer  has  been  made  for
declaration of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)  Act, 2000, as ultra vires the Constitution,
in Writ Petition (C) No. 10 of  2013,
Salil Bali Vs. Union of India, Writ Petition (C) No.  85  of  2013,  Krishna
Deo Prasad Vs. Union of India, Writ Petition  (C)  No.  42  of  2013,  Kamal
Kumar Pandey & Sukumar Vs. Union of India and Writ Petition (C) No.  182  of
2013, Hema Sahu Vs. Union of India, a common  prayer  has  inter  alia  been
made to strike down the provisions of Section 2(k)  and  (l)  of  the  above
Act, along with a prayer to bring  the  said  Act  in  conformity  with  the
provisions of the Constitution and to direct the Respondent No.  1  to  take
steps to make changes in  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of
Children) Act, 2000, to bring it in line with the  United  Nations  Standard
Minimum Rules for administration of juvenile justice.  In  addition  to  the
above, in Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 6 of 2013, Shilpa Arora Sharma Vs.  Union
of India, a prayer has inter alia been made to appoint a panel  of  criminal
psychologists to determine through clinical methods whether the juvenile  is
involved in the Delhi gang rape on 16.12.2012.  Yet,  another  relief  which
has been prayed for in common during the oral submissions made on behalf  of
the Petitioners was that in offences like rape and murder, juveniles  should
be tried  under  the  normal  law  and  not  under  the  aforesaid  Act  and
protection granted to persons up to the age of 18 years under the  aforesaid
Act may be removed and that the investigating agency should be permitted  to
keep the record of the juvenile offenders to  take  preventive  measures  to
enable them to detect  repeat  offenders  and  to  bring  them  to  justice.
Furthermore, prayers have also been made in Writ Petition (Crl.)  No.  6  of
2013 and Writ Petition (C) No.  85  of  2013,  which  are  personal  to  the
juvenile accused in the Delhi gang rape case of 16.12.2012, not  to  release
him and to keep him in custody or any place of strict  detention,  after  he
was found to be a mentally abnormal  psychic  person  and  that  proper  and
detailed investigation be conducted by the CBI to ascertain his correct  age
by examining his school documents and other records and to  further  declare
that prohibition in Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and  Protection
of Children) Act, 2000, be declared unconstitutional.



2.    In most of the matters, the Writ Petitioners  appeared  in-person,  in
support of their individual cases.

3.    Writ Petition (C) No.10 of 2013, filed by Shri Salil Bali,  was  taken
up as the first matter in the bunch.   The  Petitioner  appearing  in-person
urged that it was necessary for the provisions of Section 2(k), 2(l) and  15
of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000,  to  be
reconsidered in the light of the spurt in criminal offences being  committed
by persons within the range of 16 to 18 years, such as the gang  rape  of  a
young woman inside a moving vehicle on 16th December,  2012,  wherein  along
with others, a juvenile, who had attained the age of 17½  years,  was  being
tried separately under the provisions of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

4.    Mr. Bali submitted that the age  of  responsibility,  as  accepted  in
India, is different from what has been accepted by other  countries  of  the
world.   But,  Mr.  Bali  also  pointed  out  that  even  in  the   criminal
jurisprudence  prevalent  in   India,   the   age   of   responsibility   of
understanding the consequences of one's actions had been  recognized  as  12
years in the Indian Penal Code.  Referring to Section 82 of  the  Code,  Mr.
Bali pointed out that the same provides that nothing is an offence which  is
done by a child under seven  years  of  age.   Mr.  Bali  also  referred  to
Section 83 of the Code, which provides that nothing is an offence  which  is
done by a child above seven years of age  and  under  twelve,  who  has  not
attained sufficient maturity  of  understanding  to  judge  the  nature  and
consequences of his conduct on a particular occasion.  Mr. Bali,  therefore,
urged  that  even  under  the  Indian  Criminal  Jurisprudence  the  age  of
understanding has been fixed at twelve years, which according  to  him,  was
commensurate with the thinking  of  other  countries,  such  as  the  United
States of America, Great Britain and Canada.



5.    In regard to Canada, Mr. Bali referred to the Youth  Criminal  Justice
Act, 2003, as  amended  from  time  to  time,  where  the  age  of  criminal
responsibility has been fixed at twelve years.  Referring to Section  13  of
the Criminal Code of Canada, Mr. Bali submitted that the  same  is  in  pari
materia with the provisions of Section 83 of  the  Indian  Penal  Code.   In
fact, according to the Criminal Justice Delivery System in Canada,  a  youth
between the age of 14 to 17 years may be tried and sentenced as an adult  in
certain situations.  Mr. Bali also pointed  out  that  even  in  Canada  the
Youth  Criminal  Justice  Act  governs  the  application  of  criminal   and
correctional law to those who are twelve years old  or  older,  but  younger
than 18 at the time of committing the offence, and  that,  although,  trials
were to take place in a Youth Court, for certain  offences  and  in  certain
circumstances, a youth may be awarded an adult sentence.



6.     Comparing  the  position  in  USA  and  the  Juvenile   Justice   and
Delinquency Prevention Act, 1974, he urged that while in several States,  no
set standards have been provided, reliance is placed on the common  law  age
of seven in fixing the age of criminal responsibility, the lowest being  six
years in North Carolina.  The general  practice  in  the  United  States  of
America, however, is that even for such children, the  courts  are  entitled
to impose life sentences in respect of certain types of offences,  but  such
life sentences without parole were not permitted for those under the age  of
eighteen years convicted of murder or offences involving violent crimes  and
weapons violations.



7.    In England and Wales, children accused of crimes are  generally  tried
under the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, as amended by Section  16(1)
of the Children and Young Persons Act,  1963.   Under  the  said  laws,  the
minimum age of criminal responsibility in England and  Wales  is  ten  years
and those below the said age are considered to be doli  incapax  and,  thus,
incapable of having any mens rea, which is  similar  to  the  provisions  of
Sections 82 and 83 of Indian Penal Code.




8.    Mr. Bali has also referred to the legal  circumstances  prevailing  in
other parts of the world wherein the  age  of  criminal  responsibility  has
been fixed between ten to sixteen years.  Mr. Bali contended that there  was
a general worldwide concern over the rising graph of  criminal  activity  of
juveniles  below  the  age  of  eighteen  years,  which  has  been  accepted
worldwide to be the age limit under which all persons were to be treated  as
children.   Mr.  Bali  sought  to  make  a  distinction  in  regard  to  the
definition of children as such in Sections 2(k) and  2(l)  of  the  Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)  Act,  2000,  and  the  level  of
maturity of the child who is capable of understanding  the  consequences  of
his actions.  He, accordingly, urged that the provisions of Sections 15  and
16 of the  Act  needed  to  be  reconsidered  and  appropriate  orders  were
required to be passed in regard to the level of  punishment  in  respect  of
heinous offences committed by children below  the  age  of  eighteen  years,
such as murder, rape,  dacoity,  etc.   Mr.  Bali  submitted  that  allowing
perpetrators of such crimes to get off with a sentence  of  three  years  at
the maximum, was not justified and a correctional course was required to  be
undertaken in that regard.



9.    Mr. Saurabh Prakash, Petitioner in Writ Petition (C) No. 14  of  2013,
also appeared in-person and, while endorsing the  submissions  made  by  Mr.
Bali, went a step further in suggesting that in view of  the  provisions  of
Sections 15  and  16  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of
Children) Act, 2000, children, as defined in the above Act,  were  not  only
taking advantage of the same, but were also  being  used  by  criminals  for
their own ends.  The Petitioner reiterated Mr. Bali's submission that  after
being awarded a maximum sentence of three years,  a  juvenile  convicted  of
heinous offences, was almost likely to become a monster in society and  pose
a great danger to others, in view of his criminal  propensities.   Although,
in the prayers to the Writ Petition, one of the reliefs prayed for  was  for
quashing the provisions of the entire Act, Mr.  Saurabh  Prakash  ultimately
urged that some of the provisions thereof were such as could  be  segregated
and struck down so as to preserve the Act as a whole.  The Petitioner  urged
that, under Article 21 of the Constitution, every citizen has a  fundamental
right to live in dignity and peace, without being subjected to  violence  by
other members of society and that by shielding  juveniles,  who  were  fully
capable of  understanding  the  consequences  of  their  actions,  from  the
sentences, as could be awarded under  the  Indian  Penal  Code,  as  far  as
adults are concerned, the State was creating a class of  citizens  who  were
not only prone to criminal activity,  but  in  whose  cases  restoration  or
rehabilitation was not possible.  Mr. Saurabh  Prakash  submitted  that  the
provisions of  Sections  15  and  16  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000,  violated  the  rights  guaranteed  to  a
citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution  and  were,  therefore,  liable
to be struck down.

10.   Mr. Saurabh Prakash also submitted that the provisions of  Section  19
of the Act, which provided for  removal  of  disqualification  attaching  to
conviction, were also illogical and were liable to be struck down.   It  was
submitted that in order to prevent repeated offences by  an  individual,  it
was necessary to maintain the  records  of  the  inquiry  conducted  by  the
Juvenile Justice Board, in relation to juveniles so that such records  would
enable the authorities concerned to assess the  criminal  propensity  of  an
individual, which would call for a different approach to  be  taken  at  the
time of inquiry.  Mr. Saurabh Prakash urged this Court to give  a  direction
to the effect that the Juvenile  Justice  Board  or  courts  or  other  high
public authorities would have the discretion to direct that in a  particular
case, the provisions of the general law would apply to a  juvenile  and  not
those of the Act.

11.    Mr.  Vivek  Narayan  Sharma,  learned  Advocate,  appeared  for   the
petitioner in Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 6 of 2013, filed by one Shilpa  Arora
Sharma, and submitted that the Juvenile Justice Board should be vested  with
the discretion to impose  punishment  beyond  three  years,  as  limited  by
Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)  Act,
2000, in cases where a child, having full knowledge of the  consequences  of
his/her actions, commits a  heinous  offence  punishable  either  with  life
imprisonment or death.  Mr. Sharma submitted  that  such  a  child  did  not
deserve to be treated as a child and be allowed  to  re-mingle  in  society,
particularly when the identity of the child is to be  kept  a  secret  under
Sections 19  and  21  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of
Children) Act, 2000.  Mr. Sharma  submitted  that  in  many  cases  children
between the  ages  of  sixteen  to  eighteen  years  were,  in  fact,  being
exploited by adults to commit heinous offences who knew full well  that  the
punishment therefor would not exceed three years.



12.   Mr.  Sharma  urged  that  without  disturbing  the  other  beneficient
provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)  Act,
2000, some of the gray areas pointed  out  could  be  addressed  in  such  a
manner as would make the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)
Act, 2000, more effective and prevent the misuse thereof.



13.   In Writ Petition (C) No. 85 of 2013, filed by Krishna Deo Prasad,  Dr.
R.R. Kishor appeared for the Petitioner and gave a detailed account  of  the
manner  in  which  the  Juvenile  Justice  Delivery  System   had   evolved.
Referring to the doctrine of doli incapax, rebuttable presumption and  adult
responsibility,  Dr.  Kishor  contended  that  even  Article  1  of  the  UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child  defines  a  child  in  the  following
terms:

           “Article 1

           For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means  every
           human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law
           applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”




14.   Dr. Kishor contended that, as pointed  out  by  Mr.  Salil  Bali,  the
expression “child” has been defined in various ways in  different  countries
all over the world.  Accordingly, the definition of a child in Section  2(k)
of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,  2000,  would
depend on the existing laws in India defining a child.  Dr. Kishor  referred
to the provisions of the Child  Labour  (Prohibition  and  Regulation)  Act,
1986, as an example, to indicate that children up to  the  age  of  fourteen
years were treated differently from children between the  ages  of  fourteen
to eighteen, for the purposes of employment in  hazardous  industries.   Dr.
Kishor re-asserted  the  submissions  made  by  Mr.  Bali  and  Mr.  Saurabh
Prakash, in regard to heinous crimes committed by children below the age  of
eighteen years, who were capable of understanding the consequences of  their
acts.

15.   Dr. Kishor also referred to the provisions of Sections 82  and  83  of
the Indian Penal Code, where the age  of  responsibility  and  comprehension
has been fixed at twelve years and below.  Learned  counsel  submitted  that
having regard to  the  above-mentioned  provisions,  it  would  have  to  be
seriously considered as  to  whether  the  definition  of  a  child  in  the
Juvenile Justice (Care and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  required
reconsideration.  He urged that because a person under the age of  18  years
was considered to be a child,  despite  his  or  her  propensity  to  commit
criminal offences, which are of a heinous and even gruesome nature, such  as
offences punishable under Sections 376, 307, 302,  392,  396,  397  and  398
IPC, the said provisions have been misused and exploited  by  criminals  and
people having their own  scores  to  settle.   Dr.  Kishor  urged  that  the
definition of a “juvenile” or a “child” or  a  “juvenile  in  conflict  with
law”,  in  Sections  2(k)  and  2(l)  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children)  Act,  2000,  was  liable  to  be  struck  down  and
replaced with  a  more  meaningful  definition,  which  would  exclude  such
juveniles.

16.    Mr.  Vikram  Mahajan,  learned  Senior  Advocate  appearing  for  the
Petitioner, Vinay K. Sharma, in Writ Petition (C)  No.  90  of  2013,  urged
that the right given  to  a  citizen  of  India  under  Article  21  of  the
Constitution is impinged upon by the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection
of Children) Act, 2000.  Mr. Mahajan urged that the Juvenile  Justice  (Care
and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, operates in violation of Articles  14
and 21 of the Constitution and that Article 13(2),  which  relates  to  post
Constitution laws, prohibits the State from making a law which either  takes
away totally or abrogates in part a fundamental  right.   Referring  to  the
United Nations Declaration on the Elimination  of  Violence  against  Women,
adopted by the General Assembly on 20th December, 1993, Mr. Mahajan  pointed
out that Article 1 of the Convention describes “violence against  women”  to
mean any act of gender-based violence that  results  in,  or  is  likely  to
result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm  or  suffering  to  women.
Referring to the alleged gang rape of a 23 year  old  para-medical  student,
in a moving bus, in Delhi, on 16th December,  2012,  Mr.  Mahajan  tried  to
indicate that crimes committed by juveniles had reached  large  and  serious
proportions and that there was a need to amend the law to ensure  that  such
persons were not given the benefit of lenient  punishment,  as  contemplated
under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)
Act, 2000.  From the figures cited by him,  he  urged  that  even  going  by
statistics, 1% of the total number of crimes committed in the country  would
amount to a large number and the remedy to such a problem would lie  in  the
Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, which made the provisions of the  Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,  2000,  redundant  and  ultra
vires Article 21 of the Constitution.

17.   Ms. Shweta Kapoor appeared in Transferred Case  No.  82  of  2013  in-
person and  questioned  the  vires  of  Sections  16(1),  19(1),  49(2)  and
52(2)(a) of the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,
2000, and submitted that they were liable to be declared as ultra vires  the
Constitution.  Referring to Section 16 of  the  aforesaid  Act,  Ms.  Kapoor
submitted that even in  the  proviso  to  Sub-section  (1)  of  Section  16,
Parliament had recognized  the  distinction  between  a  juvenile,  who  had
attained the age of sixteen years, but had committed an  offence  which  was
so serious in nature that it  would  not  be  in  his  interest  or  in  the
interest of other juveniles in a special home, to send him to  such  special
home.   Considering that none of the other measures provided under  the  Act
was suitable or sufficient,  the Government had empowered the Board to  pass
an order for the juvenile to be kept in such place of  safety  and  in  such
manner as it thought fit.  Ms. Kapoor submitted that no objection  could  be
taken to the said provision except for the  fact  that  in  the  proviso  to
Section 16(2), it has been added that the period of  detention  order  would
not exceed, in any case, the maximum limit of punishment, as provided  under
Section 15, which is three years.

18.   Ms. Kapoor  contended  that  while  the  provisions  of  the  Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,  2000,  are  generally  meant
for the benefit of the juvenile offenders, a serious attempt would  have  to
be  made  to  grade  the  nature  of  offences  to  suit   the   reformation
contemplated by the Act.

19.   As part of her submissions, Ms. Kapoor referred  to  the  decision  of
this Court in Avishek Goenka Vs. Union of India [(2012) 5 SCC 321],  wherein
the pasting of black films on glass panes  were  banned  by  this  Court  on
account of the fact that partially opaque glass panes on vehicles  acted  as
facilitators of crime.  Ms. Kapoor urged that in the  opening  paragraph  of
the judgment, it has been observed that “Alarming  rise  in  heinous  crimes
like kidnapping, sexual assault on women and dacoity have impinged upon  the
right to life and the right to live in a safe environment which  are  within
the contours of Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.  Ms.  Kapoor  also
referred to another decision of this Court in Abuzar Hossain  Vs.  State  of
West Bengal [(2012) 10 SCC 489],  which  dealt  with  a  different  question
regarding the provisions of Section 7A of the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the right of an accused to raise  the
claim of juvenility at any stage of  the  proceedings  and  even  after  the
final disposal of the case.

20.   In conclusion, Ms. Kapoor reiterated her stand that in  certain  cases
the definition of a juvenile in Sections  2(k)  and  2(l)  of  the  Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)  Act,  2000,  would  have  to  be
considered differently.

21.   The next matter which engaged our attention is Writ  Petition  (Civil)
No.90 of 2013 filed by one Vinay Kumar Sharma,  praying  for  a  declaration
that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)  Act,  2000,  be
declared ultra vires the Constitution  and  that  children  should  also  be
tried along with adults under the penal laws applicable to adults.

22.   Writ Petition (Civil) No.42 of 2013 has  been  filed  by  Kamal  Kumar
Pandey and Sukumar, Advocates,  inter  alia,  for  an  appropriate  writ  or
direction declaring the provisions of  Sections  2(1),  10  and  17  of  the
Juvenile Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  to  be
irrational, arbitrary, without reasonable nexus and thereby ultra vires  and
unconstitutional, and for a Writ of  Mandamus  commanding  the  Ministry  of
Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government  of  India,  to
take  steps  that  the  aforesaid  Act  operates  in  conformity  with   the
Constitution.  In addition, a prayer was made to declare the  provisions  of
Sections 15 and 19 of the above Act ultra vires the Constitution.



23.   The main thrust of the argument advanced by Mr. Pandey,  who  appeared
in person, was the inter-play between International Conventions  and  Rules,
such as the Beijing Rules, 1985, the U.N. Convention on the  Rights  of  the
Child, 1989, and the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)
Act, 2000.  While admitting the salubirous and  benevolent  and  progressive
character of the legislation in dealing with children in need  of  care  and
protection and with children in conflict  with  law,  Mr.  Pandey  contended
that a distinction was required to be made in respect  of  children  with  a
propensity to commit heinous crimes  which  were  a  threat  to  a  peaceful
social order.  Mr. Pandey reiterated the submissions made  earlier  that  it
was unconstitutional to place all juveniles, irrespective of the gravity  of
the offences,  in one bracket.  Urging that Section  2(l)  of  the  Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children)  Act,  2000,  ought  not  to  have
placed all children in conflict  with  law  within  the  same  bracket,  Mr.
Pandey  submitted  that  the  same  is  ultra  vires  Article  21   of   the
Constitution.  Referring to the report of the National Crime Records  Bureau
(NCRB) for the years 2001 to 2011, Mr. Pandey submitted  that  between  2001
and 2011, the involvement of juveniles  in  cognizable  crimes  was  on  the
rise.   Mr.  Pandey  urged  that  it   was   a   well-established   medical-
psychological fact that the level of understanding of a 16 year-old  was  at
par with that of adults.



24.   Mr. Pandey's next volley  was  directed  towards  Section  19  of  the
Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  which
provides for the removal of any disqualification attached to an  offence  of
any nature.  Mr. Pandey submitted that the said provisions do not take  into
account the fact relating  to  repeated  offences  being  perpetrated  by  a
juvenile whose  records  of  previous  offences  are  removed.   Mr.  Pandey
contended that Section 19 of the Act was required to be  amended  to  enable
the concerned authorities to retain records of previous  offences  committed
by a juvenile for the purposes  of  identification  of  a  juvenile  with  a
propensity to repeatedly commit offences of a grievous or heinous nature.



25.   Mr. Pandey submitted that  Parliament  had  exceeded  its  mandate  by
blindly adopting eighteen as the upper limit in categorising a  juvenile  or
a  child,  in  accordance  with  the  Beijing  Rules,  1985,  and  the  U.N.
Convention, 1989, without taking into account  the  socio-cultural  economic
conditions and the legal system for administration of  criminal  justice  in
India.  Mr. Pandey urged that the Juvenile Justice (Care and  Protection  of
Children) Act,  2000,  was  required  to  operate  in  conformity  with  the
provisions of the Constitution of India.



26.   Ms. Hema Sahu, the petitioner in Writ  Petition  (Civil)  No.  182  of
2013, also appeared in person and restated the views expressed by the  other
petitioners  that  the  United  Nations  Standard  Minimum  Rules  for   the
Administration of Juvenile Justice, commonly known as the  “Beijing  Rules”,
recognized and noted the difference in the nature of offences  committed  by
juveniles in conflict with law.  Referring to the decision of this Court  in
the case commonly known as the “Bombay  Blasts  Case”,  Ms.  Sahu  submitted
that a juvenile who was tried and convicted  along  with  adults  under  the
Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), was  denied  the  protection
of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  on
account of the serious nature of the offence.  Ms. Sahu ended  on  the  note
that paragraph 4 of the 1989 Convention did not make any reference to age.



27.   Appearing for the Union of India, the  Additional  Solicitor  General,
Mr. Siddharth Luthra, strongly opposed the submissions  made  on  behalf  of
the Petitioners to either declare the  entire  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as ultra vires the Constitution or  parts
thereof,  such as Sections 2(k),  2(l),  15,  16,  17,  19  and  21.   After
referring to the aforesaid provisions of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  the  learned  ASG   submitted   that
Parliament consciously fixed eighteen years  as  the  upper  age  limit  for
treating persons as juveniles and children, taking  into  consideration  the
general trend of legislation,  not  only  internationally,  but  within  the
country as well.

28.   The  learned  ASG  submitted  that  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000, was enacted after years  of  deliberation
and in conformity with international standards as  laid  down  in  the  U.N.
Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, the Beijing  Rules,  1985,  the
Havana Rules and other  international  instruments  for  securing  the  best
interests of the child with the primary object of  social  reintegration  of
child victims and children  in  conflict  with  law,  without  resorting  to
conventional judicial proceedings which existed  for  adult  criminals.   In
the course of his submissions, the learned ASG  submitted  a  chart  of  the
various Indian statutes and the manner in which children have been  excluded
from liability under the said Acts upto the age of 18 years. In most of  the
said enactments, a juvenile/child has been  referred  to  a  person  who  is
below 18 years of age.  The learned  ASG  submitted  that  in  pursuance  of
international obligations, the Union of India  after  due  deliberation  had
taken a conscious policy decision to fix the age of a child/juvenile at  the
upper limit of 18 years.  The learned ASG urged that the fixing of  the  age
when a child ceases to be a child at 18 years is a matter  of  policy  which
could not be questioned in a court of law, unless the same  could  be  shown
to have violated any of the fundamental rights, and in  particular  Articles
14 and 21 of the Constitution.  Referring to the decision of this  Court  in
BALCO Employees Union Vs. Union of India [(2002) 2  SCC  333],  the  learned
ASG submitted that at  paragraph  46  of  the  said  judgment  it  had  been
observed that it is neither within the domain of the Courts  nor  the  scope
of judicial review to embark upon an enquiry  as  to  whether  a  particular
public policy was wise or whether something better could be evolved. It  was
further observed that the Courts were reluctant to strike down a  policy  at
the behest of  a  Petitioner  merely  because  it  has  been  urged  that  a
different policy would have been fairer or wiser or more scientific or  more
logical.   The  learned  ASG  further  urged  that  Article  15(3)  of   the
Constitution empowers the State to enact special provisions  for  women  and
children, which reveals that the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection  of
Children)  Act,  2000,  was  in  conformity  with  the  provisions  of   the
Constitution.



29.   The learned ASG submitted that in various judgments,  this  Court  and
the High Courts had recognised the fact that juveniles were required  to  be
treated differently from adults so as to give such children,  who  for  some
reason had gone astray, an opportunity to  realize  their  mistakes  and  to
rehabilitate themselves and rebuild their lives.  Special mention  was  made
with regard to the decision of this Court in Abuzar Hossain (supra) in  this
regard.   The learned ASG also referred to the decision  of  this  Court  in
State of Tamil Nadu Vs. K. Shyam Sunder [(2011) 8 SCC 737], wherein  it  had
been observed that merely because the  law  causes  hardships  or  sometimes
results in adverse consequences, it cannot be held to  be  ultra  vires  the
Constitution, nor can it be struck down.  The  learned  ASG  also  submitted
that it was now well-settled that reasonable classification  is  permissible
so long as such classification has a rational nexus with the  object  sought
to be achieved.  This Court has always held that the presumption  is  always
in favour of the constitutionality of an  enactment,  since  it  has  to  be
assumed that the  legislature  understands  and  correctly  appreciates  the
needs of its own people  and  its  discriminations  are  based  on  adequate
grounds.



30.   Referring to  the  Reports  of  the  National  Crime  Reports  Bureau,
learned ASG pointed out that the percentage of increase  in  the  number  of
offences committed by  juveniles  was  almost  negligible  and  the  general
public perception in such matters was  entirely  erroneous.   In  fact,  the
learned ASG pointed out that even the  Committee  appointed  to  review  the
amendments to the criminal law, headed by former CJI,  J.S.  Verma,  in  its
report submitted on 23rd January, 2013, did not recommend the  reduction  in
the age of juveniles in conflict with  law  and  has  maintained  it  at  18
years.  The learned ASG pointed out that the issue of reduction in  the  age
of juveniles from 18 to 16 years, as it was in the Juveniles Justice Act  of
1986, was also raised in the Lok Sabha  on  19th  March,  2013,  during  the
discussion on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, but was  rejected  by
the House.



31.  The learned ASG submitted that the occurrence of 16th  December,  2012,
involving the alleged gang rape of  a  23  year  old  girl,  should  not  be
allowed to colour the decision taken to treat all persons below the  age  of
18 years, as children.



32.   Mr. Anant Asthana, learned Advocate appearing  for HAQ  :  Centre  for
Child Rights, submitted that the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection  of
Children) Act, 2000, as amended in 2006 and 2011, is  a  fairly  progressive
legislation, largely compliant  with  the  Constitution  of  India  and  the
minimum standards contained in the Beijing  Rules.   Mr.  Asthana  contended
that the reason for incidents such as the  16th  December,  2012,  incident,
was not on account of the provisions of the aforesaid Act,  but  on  account
of failure of the administration in implementing  its  provisions.   Learned
counsel submitted that all the Writ Petitions appeared to be  based  on  two
assumptions, namely, (i) that the age of  18  years  for  juveniles  is  set
arbitrarily; and (ii) that by reducing the age for the purpose  of  defining
a child in the aforesaid Act, criminality  amongst  children  would  reduce.
Mr. Asthana submitted that such an  approach  was  flawed  as  it  had  been
incorrectly submitted that the age of 18 years to treat persons as  children
was set arbitrarily and that it is so difficult  to  comprehend  the  causes
and the environment which brings  children  into  delinquency.  Mr.  Asthana
submitted that the answer lies in effective and  sincere  implementation  of
the different laws aimed at improving the conditions of children in need  of
care and protection and providing such protection to children at  risk.  Mr.
Asthana urged that the objective with which the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000, was enacted was not aimed  at  delivering
retributive justice, but to  allow  a  rehabilitative,  reformation-oriented
approach in addressing juvenile crimes. Learned counsel submitted  that  the
apathy of the administration towards juveniles and the manner in which  they
are treated would be evident from the fact that by  falsifying  the  age  of
juveniles, they were treated as adults and sent to jails, instead  of  being
produced before the  Juvenile  Justice  Board  or   even  before  the  Child
Welfare Committees to be dealt with in a manner  provided  by  the  Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, for  the  treatment  of
juveniles.



33.   Mr. Asthana submitted that even as recently as 26th April,  2013,  the
Government of India has adopted a new National Policy  for  Children,  which
not only recognises that a child is any person below  the  age  of  eighteen
years, but also states that the policy was to guide and  inform   people  of
laws, policies, plans and programmes affecting children.  Mr. Asthana  urged
that  all  actions  and  initiatives  of  the  national,  State  and   local
Governments in all sectors  must  respect  and  uphold  the  principles  and
provisions of this policy and it would neither be appropriate  nor  possible
for the Union of India to adopt a different  approach  in  the  matter.  Mr.
Asthana, who  appears  to  have  made  an  in-depth  study  of  the  matter,
submitted that on the question of making  the  provisions  in  the  Juvenile
Justice (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  conform  to  the
provisions of the Constitution and to allow the children of a  specific  age
group to be treated as adults, it would  be  appropriate  to  take  note  of
General Comment No.10 made by the U.N. Committee on the rights of the  child
on 25th April, 2007, which specifically dealt with the upper age  limit  for
juveniles and it was reiterated that where it was a case of  a  child  being
in need of care and protection or in conflict with law, every  person  under
the age of 18 years at the time of commission of the  alleged  offence  must
be treated in accordance with  the  Juvenile  Justice  Rules.   Mr.  Asthana
submitted that any attempt to alter the upper limit of the age  of  a  child
from 18 to 16 years would have disastrous consequences and  would  set  back
the  attempts  made  over  the  years  to  formulate   a   restorative   and
rehabilitative approach  mainly for juveniles in conflict with law.



34.   In Writ Petition (Civil) No.85 of 2013, a counter affidavit  has  been
filed on behalf of the Ministry of Women and Child  Development,  Government
of India, in which the submissions made by the ASG,  Mr.  Siddharth  Luthra,
were duly reflected.  In paragraph I of the  said  affidavit,  it  has  been
pointed out that the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)
Act, 2000, provides for a wide range of reformative measures under  Sections
15 and 16 for children in conflict with law  –  from  simple  warning  to  3
years of institutionalisation in a  Special  Home.   In  exceptional  cases,
provision has also been made for the juvenile to  be  sent  to  a  place  of
safety  where  intensive  rehabilitation  measures,  such  as   counselling,
psychiatric evaluation and treatment would be undertaken.



35.   In Writ Petition (C) No.10 of  2013  filed  by  Shri  Salil  Bali,  an
application had been made  by  the  Prayas  Juvenile  Aid  Centre  (JAC),  a
Society whose Founder and General Secretary, Shri Amod  Kanth,  was  allowed
to appear and address the Court in person.  Mr. Amod Kanth claimed  that  he
was a former member of the Indian Police  Service  and  Chairperson  of  the
Delhi Commission for the  Protection  of  Child  Rights  and  was  also  the
founder General Secretary of the aforesaid  organisation,  which  came  into
existence in 1998 as a special unit  associated  with  the  Missing  Persons
Squad of the Crime and Railway Branch of the  Delhi  Police  of  which  Shri
Amod Kanth was the in-charge Deputy Commissioner of Police.  Mr. Amod  Kanth
submitted that Prayas was created in  order  to  identify  and  support  the
missing and found  persons,  including  girls,  street  migrants,  homeless,
working and delinquent children who  did  not  have  any  support  from  any
organisation in the  Government  or  in  the  non-governmental  organisation
sector.



36.   Mr. Kanth repeated and reiterated the submissions made by the  learned
ASG and Mr. Asthana and also highlighted  the  problems  faced  by  children
both in conflict with law and in need of care  and  protection.   Mr.  Kanth
submitted that whatever was required to be done for the  rehabilitation  and
restoration of juveniles to a normal existence has, to a large extent,  been
defeated since the various provisions of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the Rules  of  2007,  were  not  being
seriously implemented.  Mr. Kanth  urged  that  after  the  ratification  by
India of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the  Child  on  11th
December, 1992, serious thought was given to the enactment of  the  Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act), 2000, which came  to  replace
the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986.  Taking a leaf out of  Mr.  Asthana’s  book,
Mr. Kanth submitted that even after thirteen years  of  its  existence,  the
provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)  Act,
2000, still remained unimplemented in major areas, which made it  impossible
for the provisions of  the  Act  to  be  properly  coordinated.   Mr.  Kanth
submitted that one of the more important features of  juvenile  law  was  to
provide a child-friendly approach in the  adjudication  and  disposition  of
matters  in  the  best  interest  of  children  and   for   their   ultimate
rehabilitation through  various  institutions  established  under  the  Act.
Submitting that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)  Act,
2000, was based on the provisions of the  Indian  Constitution,  the  United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, the Beijing  Rules  and
the United Nations Rules for the Protection of  the  Juveniles  Deprived  of
their Liberty, 1990, Mr. Kanth urged that the same was  in  perfect  harmony
with the provisions of the Constitution, but did not receive  the  attention
it ought to have received while dealing with a section of  the  citizens  of
India comprising 42% of the country’s population.



37.   Various measures to deal with juveniles  in  conflict  with  law  have
been suggested by Mr. Kanth, which requires serious  thought  and  avoidance
of knee-jerk reactions to situations which could set a dangerous  trend  and
affect millions of children in need  of  care  and  protection.   Mr.  Kanth
submitted that any change in the law, as it now  stands,  resulting  in  the
reduction  of  age  to  define  a  juvenile,  will  not  only  prove  to  be
regressive, but would also adversely affect India’s image as a  champion  of
human rights.



38.   Having regard to the serious nature of the issues  raised  before  us,
we have given serious thought to the submissions advanced on behalf  of  the
respective parties and  also  those  advanced  on  behalf  of  certain  Non-
Government Organizations and have  also  considered  the  relevant  extracts
from the Report of Justice  J.S.  Verma  Committee  on  “Amendments  to  the
Criminal Law”  and  are  convinced  that  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as amended  in  2006,  and  the  Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007, are  based  on  sound
principles recognized internationally and contained  in  the  provisions  of
the Indian Constitution.



39.   There is little doubt that the incident, which occurred on  the  night
of 16th December, 2012, was not only gruesome, but almost  maniacal  in  its
content, wherein one juvenile, whose role is  yet  to  be  established,  was
involved, but such an incident, in comparison to the vast number  of  crimes
occurring in India, makes it an aberration rather than the  Rule.   If  what
has come out from the reports of the Crimes Record  Bureau,  is  true,  then
the number of crimes committed  by  juveniles  comes  to  about  2%  of  the
country’s crime rate.



40.   The learned ASG along with Mr. Asthana and Mr. Kanth, took us  through
the history of the enactment of the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and  Protection
of Children) Act, 2000, and the  Rules  subsequently  framed  thereunder  in
2007.  There is a definite thought process, which went  into  the  enactment
of the aforesaid Act.  In  order  to  appreciate  the  submissions  made  on
behalf of  the  respective  parties  in  regard  to  the  enactment  of  the
aforesaid  Act  and  the  Rules,  it  may  be  appropriate  to  explore  the
background of the laws relating to child protection  in  India  and  in  the
rest of the world.



41.   It cannot be questioned that children are amongst the most  vulnerable
sections in any society.  They represent almost  one-third  of  the  world’s
population, and unless they are  provided  with  proper  opportunities,  the
opportunity of making them grow into responsible citizens of  tomorrow  will
slip out of the hands of the present  generation.   International  community
has been alive to the problem for a long time.  After the aftermath  of  the
First World War, the League of Nations issued the Geneva Declaration of  the
Rights of the Child in 1924.  Following the  gross  abuse  and  violence  of
human rights during  the  Second  World  War,  which  caused  the  death  of
millions of people, including children, the United Nations had  been  formed
in 1945 and on 10th December, 1948  adopted  and  proclaimed  the  Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.  While Articles 1  and  7  of  the  Declaration
proclaimed that all human beings are born free  and  equal  in  dignity  and
rights and  are  equal  before  the  law,  Article  25  of  the  Declaration
specifically provides that motherhood and childhood  would  be  entitled  to
special care  and  assistance.   The  growing  consciousness  of  the  world
community was further evidenced by the Declaration  of  the  Rights  of  the
Child, which came to be proclaimed by the United Nations on  20th  November,
1959, in the best interests of the child.  This was followed by the  Beijing
Rules of 1985, the Riyadh  Guidelines  of  1990,  which  specially  provided
guidelines for the prevention of juvenile delinquency, and the Havana  Rules
of 14th December, 1990.  The said three sets of Rules intended  that  social
policies should be evolved and applied to prevent juvenile  delinquency,  to
establish a Juvenile Justice System for juveniles in conflict with  law,  to
safeguard fundamental  rights  and  to  establish  methods  for  social  re-
integration of young people who had  suffered  incarceration  in  prison  or
other corrective institutions.   One  of  the  other  principles  which  was
sought to be reiterated and adopted was that  a  juvenile  should  be  dealt
with for an offence in a manner which  is  different  from  an  adult.   The
Beijing Rules indicated that efforts should be made by member  countries  to
establish within their own national jurisdiction, a set of  laws  and  rules
specially applicable to juvenile offenders.  It was stated that the  age  of
criminal responsibility in legal systems that recognize the concept  of  the
age of criminal responsibility for juveniles should not be fixed at too  low
an age-level,  keeping  in  mind  the  emotional,  mental  and  intellectual
maturity of children.



42.   Four years after  the  adoption  of  the  Beijing  Rules,  the  United
Nations adopted  the  Convention  on  the  Rights  of  the  Child  vide  the
Resolution of the General Assembly No.  44/25  dated  20th  November,  1989,
which came into  force  on  2nd  September,  1990.   India  is  not  only  a
signatory to the said Convention, but has also ratified  the  same  on  11th
December, 1992.  The said Convention sowed the seeds  of  the  enactment  of
the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)  Act,  2000,  by  the
Indian Parliament.



43.   India developed its own jurisprudence relating  to  children  and  the
recognition of their rights.  With the adoption of the Constitution on  26th
November 1949, constitutional safeguards, as far as weaker sections  of  the
society, including  children,  were  provided  for.   The  Constitution  has
guaranteed several rights to children, such  as  equality  before  the  law,
free and compulsory primary education to children between the age  group  of
six to fourteen years, prohibition  of  trafficking  and  forced  labour  of
children and  prohibition  of  employment  of  children  below  the  age  of
fourteen  years  in  factories,  mines  or   hazardous   occupations.    The
Constitution enables the State Governments to make  special  provisions  for
children.  To prevent female foeticide,  the  Pre-conception  and  Pre-natal
Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex  Selection)  Act  was  enacted  in
1994.  One of the latest enactments  by  Parliament  is  the  Protection  of
Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.



44.   The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,  2000,  is
in  tune  with  the  provisions  of  the  Constitution   and   the   various
Declarations and Conventions adopted by the world community  represented  by
the United Nations.  The basis of fixing of  the  age  till  when  a  person
could be treated as a child at eighteen years in the Juvenile Justice  (Care
and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, was Article 1 of  the  Convention  of
the Rights of the Child, as was brought to our notice  during  the  hearing.
Of course, it has been submitted by  Dr.  Kishor  that  the  description  in
Article 1 of the Convention was a contradiction in terms.   While  generally
treating eighteen to be the age till which a person could be treated  to  be
a child, it also indicates that the same was variable  where  national  laws
recognize the age of majority earlier.  In this regard,  one  of  the  other
considerations which weighed with the  legislation  in  fixing  the  age  of
understanding at eighteen years is on account of the  scientific  data  that
indicates that the brain continues to develop and  the  growth  of  a  child
continues till he reaches at least the age of eighteen years and that it  is
at that point of time  that  he  can  be  held  fully  responsible  for  his
actions.  Along with physical growth, mental growth  is  equally  important,
in assessing the maturity of a person below the age of eighteen  years.   In
this connection, reference may be made to the chart provided by  Mr.  Kanth,
wherein the various laws relating to children generally  recognize  eighteen
years to be the age for reckoning a person as a  juvenile/  child  including
criminal offences.



45.   In any event, in the absence of any proper data, it would not be  wise
on our part to deviate from the provisions of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care
and Protection of  Children)  Act,  2000,  which  represent  the  collective
wisdom of Parliament.  It may not be out of place to  mention  that  in  the
Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, male children above the  age  of  sixteen  years
were considered to be adults, whereas girl children were treated  as  adults
on attaining the age of eighteen years.  In the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and
Protection of Children)  Act,  2000,  a  conscious  decision  was  taken  by
Parliament to raise the age of male juveniles/children to eighteen years.



46.   In recent years, there has been a  spurt  in  criminal  activities  by
adults, but not so by juveniles, as the materials produced before  us  show.
The age limit which was  raised  from  sixteen  to  eighteen  years  in  the
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, is a  decision
which was taken by the Government, which is strongly in favour of  retaining
Sections 2(k) and 2(l) in the manner in  which  it  exists  in  the  Statute
Book.



47.   One  misunderstanding  of  the  law  relating  to  the  sentencing  of
juveniles, needs to be corrected.  The general understanding of  a  sentence
that can be awarded to a juvenile under Section 15(1)(g)  of  the   Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, prior to its  amendment
in 2006, is that after attaining the age of eighteen years, a  juvenile  who
is found guilty of a  heinous  offence  is  allowed  to  go  free.   Section
15(1)(g), as it stood before  the  amendment  came  into  effect  from  22nd
August, 2006, reads as follows:

           “15(1)(g)   make an order directing the juvenile to be sent to a
           special home for a period of three years:
           (i) in case of juvenile, over  seventeen  years  but  less  than
           eighteen years of age, for a period of not less than two years;


           (ii)  in case of any other juvenile  for  the  period  until  he
           ceases to be a juvenile:


                 Provided that the Board  may,  if  it  is  satisfied  that
           having regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances
           of the case, it is  expedient  so  to  do,  for  reasons  to  be
           recorded, reduce the period of stay to such period as it  thinks
           fit.”




      It was generally perceived that a juvenile was free to go, even if  he
had committed a heinous crime, when he ceased to be a juvenile.



      The said understanding  needs  to  be  clarified  on  account  of  the
amendment which came into force with effect  from  22.8.2006,  as  a  result
whereof Section 15(1)(g) now reads as follows:

           “Make an order directing the juvenile to be sent  to  a  special
           home for a period of three years:


                 Provided that the Board may if it is satisfied that having
           regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances of the
           case, it is expedient so to  do,  for  reasons  to  be  recorded
           reduce the period of stay to such period as it thinks fit.”

      The aforesaid amendment now makes it clear that  even  if  a  juvenile
attains the age of eighteen years within a  period  of  one  year  he  would
still have to undergo a sentence of three years, which  could  spill  beyond
the period of one year when he attained majority.



48.   There is yet another consideration which appears to have weighed  with
the worldwide community, including India, to retain eighteen  as  the  upper
limit to which persons could be treated as children.
 In  the  Bill  brought
in Parliament for enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of
Children) Act of 2000, it  has  been  indicated  that  the  same  was  being
introduced to provide for the care, protection, treatment,  development  and
rehabilitation  of  neglected  or   delinquent   juveniles   and   for   the
adjudication of certain matters relating to and  disposition  of  delinquent
juveniles.
The essence of the Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of
Children)  Act,  2000,  and  the  Rules  framed  thereunder  in   2007,   is
restorative and  not  retributive,  providing  for  rehabilitation  and  re-
integration of children in conflict with law into mainstream  society.
 The
age of eighteen has been fixed on account of the  understanding  of  experts in child psychology and behavioural patterns  that  till  such  an  age  the children in conflict with law  could  still  be  redeemed  and  restored  to mainstream society,  instead  of  becoming  hardened  criminals  in  future.
There are, of course, exceptions where a child in the age group  of  sixteen
to eighteen may have developed criminal propensities, which  would  make  it
virtually  impossible  for  him/her  to  be  re-integrated  into  mainstream
society, 
but such examples are not of such proportions  as  to  warrant  any
change in thinking, since it is probably  better  to  try  and  re-integrate
children with criminal propensities into mainstream society, rather than  to
allow them to develop into hardened criminals, which  does  not  augur  well
for the future.



49.   This being the understanding of the Government  behind  the  enactment
of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)  Act,  2000,  and
the amendments effected thereto in 2006,  together  with  the  Rules  framed
thereunder in 2007, and the data available with regard to the commission  of
heinous offences by children, within the meaning of Sections 2(k)  and  2(l)
of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000,  we  do
not think that any interference is necessary  with  the  provisions  of  the
Statute till such time as  sufficient  data  is  available  to  warrant  any
change in the provisions of the aforesaid Act and the Rules.  On  the  other
hand, the implementation of the various  enactments  relating  to  children,
would possibly yield better results.



50.    The  Writ  Petitions  and  the  Transferred  Case   are,   therefore,
dismissed, with the aforesaid observations.  There  shall,  however,  be  no
order as to costs.


                                                     …………………………………………………CJI.
                                     (ALTAMAS KABIR)



                                                     ………………………………………………………J.
                                    (SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR)



                                                     ………………………………………………………J.
                                     (J. CHELAMESWAR)


New Delhi
Dated:July 17, 2013.



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