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Monday, March 31, 2014

Juvenile Justice Act - Delhi Rape case - one of the Accused is a juvenile -Challenging the provision of JJ Act- third parties and victim Girl parents filed petitions and writs - challenging the Act and trial of Juvenile under JJ Act - Apex court dismissed all the cases = DR. SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY & ORS. ... APPELLANT (S) VERSUS RAJU THR. MEMBER JUVENILE ... RESPONDENT (S) JUSTICE BOARD & ANR.=2014 (March. Part ) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41356

       Juvenile Justice Act  - Delhi Rape case - one of the Accused is a juvenile -Challenging the provision of JJ Act-  third parties and victim Girl parents filed petitions and writs - challenging the Act and trial of Juvenile under JJ Act - Apex court dismissed all the cases =

 On 16th December, 2012 a young lady (23 years in age) and  her  friend
were returning home after watching a movie in a multiplex located in one  of
the glittering malls of Delhi.  They boarded a bus to undertake  a  part  of
the journey back home.   While  the  bus  was  moving,  5  persons  brutally
assaulted the young lady, sexually and  physically,  and  also  her  friend.
Both of them were thrown out of the bus.  The young lady  succumbed  to  her
injuries on 29.12.2012. =
One  of
them, identified for the purpose of the present case as Raju, was  below  18
years of age on the date  of  commission  of  the  crime.   Accordingly,  in
compliance with the provisions of  the  Juvenile  Justice  Act,  2000  (  as
amended and hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’) his case was referred  for
inquiry to the Juvenile Justice Board.  =
Before the Juvenile Justice  Board  to  whom  the  case  of  Raju  was
referred for inquiry, the  petitioners  had  filed  applications  for  their
impleadment to enable them to ‘prosecute’ the juvenile alongside the  public
prosecutor. =
whether  the
offence(s) allegedly committed by the juvenile is to  be  inquired  into  by
the Board or the juvenile is required to be  tried  in  a  regular  criminal
court is concerned, the Board had expressed  its  inability  to  decide  the
same and had directed the petitioners to seek a authoritative  pronouncement
on the said issue(s) from the High Court.=
This writ petition has been filed by the parents of the victim of  the
incident that had occurred on 16.12.2012 seeking the following reliefs :
      “(i)    a Direction striking down as  unconstitutional  and  void  the
      Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 (Act No.56
      of 2000) to the extent it puts a blanket  ban  on  the  power  of  the
      criminal courts to try a  juvenile  offender  for  offences  committed
      under the Indian Penal Code, 1860; and


      (ii)     a Direction that the Respondent No.2 be  tried  forthwith  by
      the competent criminal court for the offences against the daughter  of
      the petitioners in F.I.R. No.413/12,  P.S.  Vasant  Vihar,  New  Delhi
      under   sections   302/365/376(2)G/377/307/   394/395/397/396/412/201/
      120B/34 IPC.”=
The  Act  does  not  do  away  or
obliterate the enforcement of the law  insofar  as  juvenile  offenders  are
concerned.  The  same  penal  law  i.e.  Indian  Penal  Code  apply  to  all
juveniles.  The only difference is that a different  scheme  for  trial  and
punishment is introduced by the Act  in  place  of  the  regular  provisions
under the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure  for  trial  of  offenders  and  the
punishments under the Indian Penal Code.   The  above  situation  is  vastly
different from what was before the Court in Mithu (supra) and also  in  Dadu
(supra).  In Mithu (supra) a separate treatment of the accused found  guilty
of a second incident of murder during the currency of the  sentence  for  an
earlier offence of murder was held to be  impermissible  under  Article  14.
Besides the absence of any judicial discretion, whatsoever,  in  the  matter
of imposition of sentence for a second Act of murder was held to be “out  of
tune” with the constitutional philosophy of  a  fair,  just  and  reasonable
law.  On the other hand in Dadu (supra), Section 32A of the NDPS  Act  which
had ousted the jurisdiction of the  Court  to  suspend  a  sentence  awarded
under the  Act  was  read  down  to  mean  that  the  power  of  suspension,
notwithstanding Section 32A of the NDPS Act, can still be exercised  by  the
appellate court but subject to  the  conditions  stipulated  in  Section  37
namely (i) there are reasonable grounds for believing that  the  accused  is
not guilty of such offence; and (ii) that he is not  likely  to  commit  any
offence while on bail are satisfied.  Nothing as sweeping and as drastic  in
Mithu (supra) and Dadu (supra) has been introduced by the provisions of  the
Act so as to enable us to share the view expressed  by  Dr.  Hingorani  that
the Act sets at naught all the essential features of  the  criminal  justice
system and introduces a scheme which  is  abhorrent  to  our  constitutional
values.  Having taken the above view, we do not  consider  it  necessary  to
enter  in  the  consequential  arena,  namely,  the  applicability  of   the
provisions of Article 20(3) of the Constitution and Section 300 of the  Code
of Criminal Procedure to the facts of the present case as on the  view  that
we have taken no question of sending the juvenile – Raju to face  a  regular
trial can and does arise.

Conculsion
On the above note we deem it appropriate to part  with  the  cases  by
dismissing the appeal filed by Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Others as  well  as
the writ petition filed by the parents of  the  unfortunate  victim  of  the
crime.

        2014 (March. Part ) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41356
P SATHASIVAM, RANJAN GOGOI, SHIVA KIRTI SINGH

             REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
              CRIMINAL APPEAL  NO.   695               OF 2014
                 (Arising Out of SLP (Crl.) No.1953 of 2013)


DR. SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY & ORS.        ...    APPELLANT (S)

                                   VERSUS

RAJU THR. MEMBER JUVENILE          ...  RESPONDENT (S)
JUSTICE BOARD & ANR.

                                    With
                         W.P. (Crl.) No.204 of 2013


                               J U D G M E N T

RANJAN GOGOI, J.
SLP (Crl.) No.1953 of 2013
1.    On 16th December, 2012 a young lady (23 years in age) and  her  friend
were returning home after watching a movie in a multiplex located in one  of
the glittering malls of Delhi.  They boarded a bus to undertake  a  part  of
the journey back home.   While  the  bus  was  moving,  5  persons  brutally
assaulted the young lady, sexually and  physically,  and  also  her  friend.
Both of them were thrown out of the bus.  The young lady  succumbed  to  her
injuries on 29.12.2012.
2.    Five persons were apprehended in connection with the  crime.   One  of
them, identified for the purpose of the present case as Raju, was  below  18
years of age on the date  of  commission  of  the  crime.   Accordingly,  in
compliance with the provisions of  the  Juvenile  Justice  Act,  2000  (  as
amended and hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’) his case was referred  for
inquiry to the Juvenile Justice Board.  The other accused were  tried  in  a
regular sessions court and have  been  found  guilty,  inter  alia,  of  the
offences under Section 376 (2)(g) and Section 302 of the Indian Penal  Code,
1860 (for short “the Penal Code”).  They have been  sentenced  to  death  by
the learned trial court.  Their appeal against the aforesaid conviction  and
the sentence imposed has since been dismissed  and  the  death  penalty  has
been confirmed by the High Court of Delhi.
3.    Before the Juvenile Justice  Board  to  whom  the  case  of  Raju  was
referred for inquiry, the  petitioners  had  filed  applications  for  their
impleadment to enable them to ‘prosecute’ the juvenile alongside the  public
prosecutor.  The petitioners also claimed that, on a  proper  interpretation
of the Act, the juvenile was not entitled to the benefits under the Act  but
was liable to be tried under  the  penal  law  of  the  land  in  a  regular
criminal court alongwith the other accused.
4.    According to the petitioners, after an elaborate  hearing,  the  Board
had fixed the case on 25.01.2013 for pronouncement of order on the  question
of maintainability of the application filed by the petitioners and  also  on
their prayer for impleadment.  However, insofar  as  the  interpretation  of
the provisions of the Act for determination  of  the  question  whether  the
offence(s) allegedly committed by the juvenile is to  be  inquired  into  by
the Board or the juvenile is required to be  tried  in  a  regular  criminal
court is concerned, the Board had expressed  its  inability  to  decide  the
same and had directed the petitioners to seek a authoritative  pronouncement
on the said issue(s) from the High Court.
5.    Accordingly, the petitioners had instituted a writ  proceeding  before
the High Court of Delhi, which was registered as Writ  Petition  (Crl.)  No.
124 of 2013, seeking the following reliefs :-
      “i.   Laying down an authoritative interpretation of Sections 2(I) and
           2(k) of the Act that the criterion of 18 years set  out  therein
           does not comprehend cases  grave  offences  in  general  and  of
           heinous crimes against women in particular that shakes the  root
           of humanity in general.

        ii. That the definition of offences under Section 2(p) of the Act be
            categorized as per grievousness of the crime committed  and  the
            threat of public safety and order.

       iii. That Section 28 of the  Act  be  interpreted  in  terms  of  its
            definition, i.e., alternative punishment  and  serious  offences
            having minimum punishment of seven years imprisonment and  above
            be brought outside its purview and the same should be  tried  by
            an ordinary criminal court.

        iv. Incorporating in the Act, the International concept  of  age  of
            criminal  responsibility  and  diluting  the  blanket   immunity
            provided to the juvenile offender on the basis of age.

         v. That the instant Act be read down in consonance with the  rights
            of victim as protected by various fundamental  rights  including
            Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.” (sic)
      “
6.   The High Court  by  its  order  dated  23.01.2013  dismissed  the  writ
petition holding that against the order of the Juvenile  Justice  Board  the
alternative remedies available under the Act  should  be  exhausted  in  the
first instance and in the course thereof the question of  interpretation  of
the provisions of the Act can well be considered.

7.     On the  very  next  day,  the  Board  by  an  elaborate  order  dated
24.01.2013 rejected the prayer of the petitioners  for  impleadment  in  the
proceeding against the delinquent and  seeking  participation  therein.   In
the aforesaid circumstances, on 19.02.2013, Special  Leave  Petition  (Crl.)
No.1953 of 2013 was lodged  before  this  Court  challenging  the  aforesaid
order of the High Court of Delhi.

8.   The  maintainability  of  the  Special  Leave  Petition  was  seriously
disputed by the respondent No.1 i.e. juvenile Raju as well as the  Union  of
India.  In support, it was, inter alia, contended  that  the  administration
of criminal justice  in  India  does  not  envisage  the  role  of  a  third
party/stranger.  Primarily, it is the State  which  is  entrusted  with  the
duty of prosecution in the discharge of which a limited role so far  as  the
complainant/first informant of an offence  is  concerned  and  that  too  in
specified situations, is contemplated by  the  provisions  of  the  Code  of
Criminal Procedure. The preliminary objection  of  the  respondents  to  the
maintainability of the Special Leave Petition was heard at  length  by  this
Court and by order dated 22.08.2013 it was held as follows:

         “All that the petitioners seek is an authoritative pronouncement of
      the true purport and effect of the different provisions of the JJ  Act
      so as to take a juvenile out of the purview of the said Act in case he
      had committed an offence, which, according to the  petitioners,  on  a
      true interpretation of Section 2(p) of the  Act,  is  required  to  be
      identified and distinguished to justify a separate course  of  action,
      namely, trial in a regular Court of law as a  specific  offence  under
      the Penal Code and in accordance with the provisions of  the  Code  of
      Criminal  Procedure.   The  adjudication  that  the  petitioners  seek
      clearly has implications beyond the case of the first  respondent  and
      the proceedings  in  which  he  is  or  may  be  involved.   In  fact,
      interpretation of the relevant provisions of the JJ Act in any  manner
      by this Court, if made, will not be confined to the  first  respondent
      alone but will have an effect on  all  juveniles  who  may  come  into
      conflict with law both in the immediate and distant future.  If we are
      to view the issue of maintainability of the  present  proceeding  from
      the  aforesaid  perspective  reference  to  the  case  of  the   first
      respondent in the pleadings must be understood to be illustrative.  If
      this Court is to interpret the provisions of the  Act  in  the  manner
      sought by the petitioners, the possible effect thereof in  so  far  as
      the first Respondent is concerned will pale into insignificance in the
      backdrop of the far reaching consequences that such an  interpretation
      may have on an indeterminate number of persons  not  presently  before
      the  Court.   We  are,  therefore,  of  the  view  that  it  would  be
      appropriate for us) hold that the  special  leave  petition  does  not
      suffer from  the  vice  of  absence  of  locus  on  the  part  of  the
      petitioners so as to render the same not  maintainable  in  law.   We,
      therefore, will proceed to hear the special leave petition  on  merits
      and attempt to provide an answer to the several  questions  raised  by
      the petitioners before us.” (sic)

9.    Notice in  the  special  leave  petition  was  accordingly  issued  in
response to which detailed counter affidavit has been  filed  on  behalf  of
the Union as well as the respondent-juvenile Raju.  In addition, Crl.  Misc.
Petition No.22586/2013 (by  Smt.  June  Chaudhari,  Senior  Advocate),  Crl.
Misc. Petition No.25075/2013 (on behalf of Centre for  Child  and  the  Law,
National Law School of India  University  and  Ors.),  Crl.  Misc.  Petition
No.15792/2013  (on  behalf  of  Prayas  Juvenile  Aid  Centre,  Tughlakabad,
Institutional Area, New Delhi) and Crl.  Misc.  Petition  No.23226/2013  (by
Dr. Madhuker Sharma) for interventions have been filed, all  of  which  have
been allowed.  The matter was elaborately heard on different dates  by  this
Court in the course  of  which  written  notes  and  arguments  as  well  as
documents relevant to the issues have been placed before the  Court  by  the
contesting parties.  In view of the elaborate consideration on the basis  of
the arguments advanced and the materials placed we deem it proper  to  grant
leave to appeal and to decide the case on merits upon full consideration  of
the rival contentions.

Writ Petition (Crl.) No.204 of 2013

10.   This writ petition has been filed by the parents of the victim of  the
incident that had occurred on 16.12.2012 seeking the following reliefs :
      “(i)    a Direction striking down as  unconstitutional  and  void  the
      Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 (Act No.56
      of 2000) to the extent it puts a blanket  ban  on  the  power  of  the
      criminal courts to try a  juvenile  offender  for  offences  committed
      under the Indian Penal Code, 1860; and


      (ii)     a Direction that the Respondent No.2 be  tried  forthwith  by
      the competent criminal court for the offences against the daughter  of
      the petitioners in F.I.R. No.413/12,  P.S.  Vasant  Vihar,  New  Delhi
      under   sections   302/365/376(2)G/377/307/   394/395/397/396/412/201/
      120B/34 IPC.”



11.   The issues raised being similar to  those  arising  in  Special  Leave
Petition (Crl.) No.1953 of 2013, both cases  were  heard  together  and  are
being disposed of by means of this common order.

12.   We have heard Dr. Subramanian Swamy, the first appellant appearing  in
person and also representing the  other  appellants  as  well  as  Dr.  Aman
Hingorani, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the  petitioners  in  W.P.
(Crl.) No.204 of 2013. We have also  heard  Shri  Sidharth  Luthra,  learned
Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the  Union  of  India  and  Shri
A.J. Bhambhani,  learned  counsel  appearing  for  the  juvenile  respondent
No.1–Raju apart from the intervenors appearing in person  or  through  their
respective counsels.

13.    Dr.  Subramanian Swamy has, at  the  outset,  clarified  that  he  is
neither challenging the provisions of Section 2(k) and 2(l) of the  Act  nor
is he invoking the jurisdiction of  the  Court  to  strike  down  any  other
provision of the Act or for interference of the Court to reduce the  minimum
age of juveniles fixed under the Act  as  18  years.   What  Dr.  Swamy  has
contended is that having regard to the object behind the enactment, the  Act
has to be read down to understand that the true test of “juvenility” is  not
in the age but in the level of mental maturity of the  offender.   This,  it
is contended, would save the Act from unconstitutionality and  also  further
its purpose.  The Act is not intended to apply to serious or heinous  crimes
committed by a juvenile.  The provisions  of  Sections  82  and  83  of  the
Indian Penal Code have been placed to contend that while  a  child  below  7
cannot be held to be criminally liable, the criminality of those  between  7
and 12 years has to be judged by the level of their  mental  maturity.   The
same principle would apply to all children  beyond  12  and  upto  18  years
also, it is contended.  This is how the two statutes i.e. Indian Penal  Code
and the Act has to be harmoniously understood.  The  provisions  of  Section
1(4) of the Act which makes the provisions of  the  Act  applicable  to  all
cases of detention, prosecution and  punishment  of  juveniles  in  conflict
with law, to the exclusion of all other laws, would be  unconstitutional  if
the Act is not read down.  Specifically,      Dr.  Swamy  contends  that  in
that event the Act will  offend  Article  14  of  the  Constitution  as  all
offenders below the age of 18 years  irrespective  of  the  degree/level  of
mental maturity and irrespective of  the  gravity  of  the  crime  committed
would be treated at par.  Such a blanket treatment of  all  offenders  below
the age of 18 committing any offence,  regardless  of  the  seriousness  and
depravity, is wholly impermissible under  our  constitutional  scheme.   The
non-obstante provisions contained in Section 1(4) of the Act as well as  the
bar imposed by Section 7 on the jurisdiction of the criminal  court  to  try
juvenile offenders cannot apply to serious and heinous  crime  committed  by
juveniles who have reached the requisite degree of mental maturity,  if  the
Act is to maintain its constitutionality.  Reliance is also placed  on  Essa
@ Anjum Abdul Razak Memon vs. State of Maharashtra[1] to  contend  that  the
purport and effect of Section 1(4) of  the  Act  must  be  understood  in  a
limited manner.

14.   By referring to the provisions of the United Nations Standard  Minimum
Rules for the Administration of  Juvenile  Justice,  1985  (Beijing  Rules);
the Convention of the Rights  of  the  Child,  1990  (CRC)  and  the  United
Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles  Deprived  of  their  Liberty,
1990(Havana  Rules),  Dr.  Swamy  has  contended  that   the   international
commitments entered into  by  India  obliges  it  to  set  up  a  particular
framework to deal with juvenile offenders and such obligations can  be  more
comprehensively  met  and  effectuated  by  understanding  the  Act  in  the
aforesaid manner.  The practice in vogue in several  foreign  jurisdictions,
particularly,  in  the  U.K.,  USA  and  Canada  for  adjudicating  criminal
liability of  young  offenders  has  also  been  placed  before  the  Court.
Specifically, it is pointed out that the  practice  of  statutory  exclusion
which ensures that perpetrators of certain grave offences are prosecuted  as
adults; ‘judicial waiver’, granting discretion to  special  juvenile  courts
to waive jurisdiction and transfer the juvenile’s case to an ordinary  court
of law and also the policy of concurrent jurisdiction of both  the  ordinary
and  juvenile  courts  giving  discretion  to  the  prosecutor  to  initiate
proceedings in the more suitable court are followed in  such  jurisdictions.
Shri Swamy has also suggested that Section 28 of the Act  be  read  together
with Section 15 to enable the alternatively higher  punishment  under  other
State/Central enactments, such as the  IPC  to  be  awarded  to  a  juvenile
offender.   It  is  argued  that  this  would  incorporate  the  policy   of
concurrent jurisdiction of both ordinary criminal courts and JJ Boards.

15.  Legislative  overreach  in  enacting  the  Act  is  the  core  argument
advanced on behalf of the petitioners in  Writ  Petition  (Crl.)  No.204  of
2013.   Dr.  Aman  Hingorani,  learned  counsel  urges  that  the   ban   on
jurisdiction of criminal courts by Section 7 of the Act is  unconstitutional
inasmuch as it virtually ousts the  criminal  justice  system  from  dealing
with any offence committed by a juvenile.  Parliament cannot make a  law  to
oust the judicial function of the courts or even judicial  discretion  in  a
matter which falls within the jurisdiction of the courts.  Reliance in  this
regard is placed on the judgments of this Court in the  case  of  Mithu  Vs.
State of Punjab[2] and Dadu Vs. State of Maharashtra[3].  It is argued  that
what the Act contemplates in place of a regular criminal  trial  is  a  non-
adversarial inquiry against the juvenile where the prime  focus  is  not  on
the crime committed but on the reasons that had led  the  juvenile  to  such
conduct.  The maximum power of ‘punishment’, on proof of guilt, is  to  send
the juvenile to a special home for three years.   The  entire  scheme  under
the Act being substantially different from what is provided by the  Code  of
Criminal  Procedure  for  investigation  of  offences  and  for  trial   and
punishment of offenders, it  is  submitted  that  the  Act  offends  a  core
constitutional value namely, the existence of  a  criminal  justice  system.
The proceedings against  the  juvenile  Raju  held  by  the  JJ  Board  are,
therefore, null and void and the said juvenile is liable to be  tried  by  a
competent criminal court in accordance with the procedure  prescribed.    In
this regard, it is also submitted that the concept of double jeopardy  under
Article 20(3) of the Constitution and Section 300 of Penal  Code  will  have
no application inasmuch as the proceedings before the JJ Board did/does  not
amount to a trial.  Contentions somewhat similar to what has  been  advanced
by Dr. Swamy to explain the degree of constitutional  flexibility  that  the
Act would enjoy has also been urged by Dr.  Hingorani  who  however  goes  a
step forward to contend that  the  decision  in  Salil  Bali  vs.  Union  of
India[4]  will not be an inhibition for the Court to answer the  question(s)
raised as not only the issues arising in Salil Bali  (supra)  are  different
but  the  said  decision  is  founded  on  an   entirely   different   legal
perspective.

16.   Shri Anoop G. Chaudhary, learned senior counsel  appearing  for  the
intervenor  Smt.  June  Chaudhari  and            Dr.   Madhuker   Sharma,
intervenor, appearing in person have supported the case projected  by  Dr.
Swamy and Dr. Aman Hingorani, noticed above.

17.  The arguments advanced on behalf of the appellants as well as the  writ
petitioners are hotly contested.  Shri Sidharth Luthra,  learned  Additional
Solicitor General submits that  what  is  contemplated  by  the  Act  is  in
furtherance  of  the  country’s  obligations  arising  from  a   series   of
international conventions to which India is a  signatory.   The  Act  is  an
expression of legislative wisdom to treat all persons below 18 as  juveniles
and to have an alternate system of dealing  with  such  juveniles  who  come
into conflict with law.   Shri Luthra has submitted that the  constitutional
validity of the Act has been upheld by a  Coordinate  Bench  in  Salil  Bali
(supra).     Shri  Luthra  has  also  submitted  that  psychological/mental,
intellectual and emotional maturity of a person below  18  years  cannot  be
objectively determined on an individual  or  case  to  case  basis  and  the
fixation of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) under the  Act
is a policy decision taken to give effect  to  the  country’s  international
commitments.  In so far as the specific contentions advanced  on  behalf  of
the writ petitioners in W.P.  (Crl.)  No.204  of  2013  is  concerned,  Shri
Luthra has submitted that the Act does not provide  a  blanket  immunity  to
juvenile offenders, as contended.  What the Act contemplates is a  different
procedure to deal with such offenders.  If found guilty, they are  subjected
to a different scheme of  punishment.   The  learned  counsel  appearing  on
behalf of the juvenile Raju, while supporting the  contentions  advanced  by
Shri Luthra, has further submitted that the  United  Nations  Convention  on
the Rights of the Child, 1990 read with the  concluding  Resolution  of  the
Committee on Child Rights (constituted under the UN Convention) of the  year
2000 qua  India  and  the  General  Resolution  of  the  year  2007  clearly
contemplate the  MACR  as  18  years  and  mandates  member  States  to  act
accordingly.  Learned counsel on the strength of the elaborate academic  and
research work placed on record has tried to persuade the Court to  take  the
view that :-
       (1) Countries like  U.K.  Canada  and  USA  have  departed  from  the
           obligations under the UN Convention and are in breach  of  their
           international commitments.  The incidence of crime by  juveniles
           in those countries is very high which is not so in India.  It is
           submitted  that,  of  late,  a  re-thinking  on  the  issue   is
           discernible to demonstrate which  reliance  is  placed  on  some
           recent pronouncements of the US Supreme Court, details of  which
           will be noticed hereinafter.
      (2)   That the level of mental/intellectual maturity in any given case
           cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy  and  precision
           and the results vary from case to case and  from  individual  to
           individual.  A system which provides for an option  to  refer  a
           juvenile to a regular court, therefore, ought not to be accepted
           as no objective basis for such reference exists.

18.   Shri Amod Kanth, representing Prayas Juveniles Aid Centre and  learned
counsel for the intervener Centre  for  Child  and  the  Law,  National  Law
School of India University and others have supported the stand taken by  the
learned Additional Solicitor General.  Elaborate  written  submissions  have
been  filed  to  substantiate   the   argument   that   having   regard   to
expert/psychological/medical  opinion   available   the   MACR   cannot   be
determined, with any acceptable degree of precision, on the basis of a  case
to case study for which reason the legislative wisdom inherent  in  the  Act
must be accepted and respected.   Statistics  of  the  crimes  (Crime  rate)
committed by juvenile offenders have also been brought on record to  contend
that the beneficial nature of the legislation does not call for any  relook,
even on the touchstone of Constitutional permissibility.

19.   At the very outset, two initial hurdles to the  present  adjudication,
set up by the respondents, may be conveniently dealt  with.   The  first  is
that the constitutional validity of the Act has been upheld  in  Salil  Bali
(supra) and it is not necessary to revisit the said decision even if  it  be
by way of a reference to a larger Bench.  The second is with regard  to  the
recommendations  of  the  Justice  J.S.  Verma  Committee  following   which
recommendations, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 has  been  enacted  by
the legislature fundamentally altering the jurisprudential norms so  far  as
offences against women/sexual offences are concerned.





20.   In  Salil  Bali  (supra)  the  constitutional  validity  of  the  Act,
particularly, Section 2(k) and  2(l)  thereof  was  under  challenge,  inter
alia, on the very same grounds as  have  now  been  advanced  before  us  to
contend that the Act  had  to  be  read  down.   In  Salil  Bali  (supra)  a
coordinate Bench did not  consider  it  necessary  to  answer  the  specific
issues raised before it and had based its conclusion  on  the  principle  of
judicial  restraint  that  must  be  exercised  while  examining   conscious
decisions that emanate from collective legislative wisdom like the age of  a
juvenile.  Notwithstanding the decision of  this  Court  in  Kesho  Ram  and
Others Vs. Union of India and Others[5] holding that,  “the  binding  effect
of a decision of this Court  does  not  depend  upon  whether  a  particular
argument was considered or not, provided the point with reference  to  which
the argument is advanced subsequently was actually decided  in  the  earlier
decision…” (para 10) the issue of res judicata was not even remotely  raised
before us.  In the field of public law and particularly when  constitutional
issues or matters of high public interest are involved, the  said  principle
would operate in a somewhat limited manner; in any case, the petitioners  in
the present proceeding were not parties to the decision  rendered  in  Salil
Bali (supra).  Therefore, we deem it proper to  proceed,  not  to  determine
the correctness of the decision in Salil Bali (supra) but  to  consider  the
arguments raised on the point of law  arising.   While  doing  so  we  shall
certainly keep in mind the course of action that judicial  discipline  would
require us to adopt, if need be.  Though expressed in a  somewhat  different
context we may remind ourselves of  the  observations  of  the  Constitution
Bench of  this  Court  in  Natural  Resources  Allocation,  In  Re,  Special
Reference No.1 of 2012[6] extracted below:-


       “48.2. The  second  limitation,  a  self-imposed  rule  of  judicial
       discipline, was that overruling the opinion of the Court on a  legal
       issue does not constitute sitting in appeal, but  is  done  only  in
       exceptional circumstances, such as when the earlier decision is  per
       incuriam or is delivered in the  absence  of  relevant  or  material
       facts or if it is manifestly wrong and  capable  of  causing  public
       mischief. For this proposition, the Court relied upon  the  judgment
       in Bengal Immunity case (AIR 1955 SC 661) wherein it was  held  that
       when Article 141 lays down that the law declared by this Court shall
       be binding on all courts within the territory  of  India,  it  quite
       obviously refers to courts other than this Court; and that the Court
       would normally follow past precedents save and except where  it  was
       necessary to reconsider the correctness of law  laid  down  in  that
       judgment. In fact, the overruling of a principle of law  is  not  an
       outcome of appellate jurisdiction but a consequence of its  inherent
       power. This inherent power can be exercised as long  as  a  previous
       decree vis-à-vis a lis inter partes  is  not  affected.  It  is  the
       attempt to  overturn  the  decision  of  a  previous  case  that  is
       problematic, which is why the Court observed that: [Cauvery (2) case
       (1993 Supp (1) SCC 96 (2), SCC p. 145, para 85]
                 “85. … Under the Constitution such  appellate  jurisdiction
           does not vest in this Court, nor can it be vested in it  by  the
           President under Article 143.”



21.   The issues arising and the contentions advanced  therefore  will  have
to be examined from the aforesaid limited perspective which we are  inclined
to do in view of the importance of the questions raised.



22.   The next issue that would need a resolution at the  threshold  is  the
effect  of  the  recommendations  of  the  Justice  J.S.   Verma   Committee
constituted by the Government of India by Notification dated 24th  December,
2012 following the very same incident of 16th December 2012 so  far  as  the
age of a juvenile is concerned.  The terms of reference to the Justice  J.S.
Verma Committee were indeed wide and it is correct that  the  Committee  did
not recommend reduction of the age of  juveniles  by  an  amendment  of  the
provisions of the Act.  However, the basis on which the Committee  had  come
to the above conclusion is vastly different  from  the  issues  before  this
Court.  The recommendations  of  the  Justice  J.S.  Verma  Committee  which
included the negative covenant so far as any amendment  to  the  JJ  Act  is
concerned was, therefore, in a different context though we  must  hasten  to
add the views expressed would undoubtedly receive our deepest  consideration
while dealing with the matter in hand.



23.   The stage is now appropriate to  have  a  look  at  the  international
conventions, holding the field, to which India has been a signatory.





      The UN Standard Minimum  Rules  for  the  Administration  of  Juvenile
Justice (“the Beijing Rules”) were adopted by the General  Assembly  of  the
United Nations in 1985. Rule 2.2(a) defines a juvenile as a child  or  young
person who, under the respective legal system, may  be  dealt  with  for  an
offence differently than an adult. Rule 4.1 set out  below  mandates  Member
States to refrain from fixing a minimum age of criminal responsibility  that
is too low, bearing in mind the facts of emotional, mental and  intellectual
maturity.

      “4.1 In those legal systems recognizing the  concept  of  the  age  of
      criminal responsibility for juveniles, the beginning of that age shall
      not be fixed at too low an age level, bearing in  mind  the  facts  of
      emotional, mental and intellectual maturity.”


24.    The  Beijing  Rules  take  into  account  penological  objectives  in
addition to rehabilitation of  the  offender.  In  Rule  17.1,  the  guiding
principles of adjudicating matters involving juveniles are enlisted:
     a)  The  reaction  shall  always  be  proportional  to  not  only  the
        circumstances and the gravity of  the  offence,  but  also  to  the
        circumstances and needs of the juvenile as well as to the needs  of
        society;




     b) Restrictions on personal liberty of the juvenile shall  be  imposed
        only after careful  consideration  and  shall  be  limited  to  the
        possible minimum;



     c) Deprivation of personal liberty shall not  be  imposed  unless  the
        juvenile is adjudicated of a serious act involving violence against
        another person  or  of  persistence  in  committing  other  serious
        offences and unless there is no other appropriate response;



     d) The well-being of the juvenile shall be the  guiding  factor  while
        considering his case.


It is clear that the Beijing Rules do not prohibit detention of  a  juvenile
if he is proved to have committed a violent, serious  offence,  or  to  have
repeatedly committed such serious offences though Rule 17.2 of  the  Beijing
Rules prohibits the imposition of capital  punishment  of  juveniles.  Thus,
the Rules do not advocate leniency in dealing with such offenders  but  only
contemplate that detention be limited to the most  serious  cases  where  no
other alternative is found appropriate after careful consideration.

25.   The Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990  (“CRC”),  in  Article
1, adopts a chronological definition of a “child”, viz. less than  18  years
old, unless majority under national legislation is attained earlier:

      “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.”


      Article  37(a)  of  the  CRC  prohibits  the  imposition  of   capital
punishment  and  life  imprisonment  without  possibility  of   release   on
offenders below 18 years of age. The CRC further obliges  State  Parties  to
establish a minimum age below which children shall be presumed not  to  have
the capacity to infringe the penal law (Article 40(3)(a)).

26.   Rule 1.2 of the  Havana  Rules  provide  that  a  juvenile  should  be
deprived of his/her liberty only as a measure of the last resort limited  to
exceptional  cases  and  for  the  minimum  necessary  period.  Even   then,
detention should be in such a manner and  in  conditions  that  respect  the
human rights of juveniles (Rule 12).

      Rule 11(a) of the Havana  Rules,  1990  define  a  juvenile  as  every
person under the age of 18, and allow national laws to determine  a  minimum
age below which such person will not be detained.

27.   Under Article 43 of the CRC,  constitution  of  a  Committee  for  the
purpose of examining the progress made by the State parties  on  the  rights
of the child is contemplated.  The first  meeting  of  the  Committee  under
Article 44 was to be within  2  years  of  the  coming  into  force  of  the
convention so far as a particular State party, in respect of whom review  of
the progress is made, is concerned.  Thereafter, the Committee  is  required
to meet every 5 years.  In  January,  2000,  the  Committee  considered  the
initial  report  of  India  submitted  on  19.03.1997  and  adopted  certain
“concluding  observations”  the  relevant  part  of  which   are   extracted
hereinbelow:
      “79.  The Committee is concerned over the administration  of  juvenile
      justice in India and its incompatibility with articles 37, 40  and  39
      of the Convention and other  relevant  international  standards.   The
      Committee is  also  concerned  at  the  very  young  age  of  criminal
      responsibility – 7 years – and the possibility of trying boys  between
      16 and 18 years of age as adults.  Noting that the death penalty is de
      facto not applied to persons under 18, the Committee is very concerned
      that de jure, this  possibility  exists.   The  Committee  is  further
      concerned at the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of detention of
      children, including detention with adults;  lack  of  application  and
      enforcement of existing juvenile justice legislation; lack of training
      for  professionals,  including  the   judiciary,   lawyers   and   law
      enforcement officers, in relation to the  Convention,  other  existing
      international standards and the 1986 Juvenile  Justice  Act;  and  the
      lack of measures and enforcement thereof to  prosecute  officials  who
      violate these provisions.

      80.   The Committee recommends that the State party review its laws in
      the administration of juvenile justice to  ensure  that  they  are  in
      accordance with the Convention, especially Articles 37, 40 and 39, and
      other relevant international standards  such  as  the  United  Nations
      Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the
      Beijing Rules), the United Nations Guidelines for  the  Prevention  of
      Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines), the United Nations Rules
      for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived  of  their  Liberty  and  the
      Vienna Guidelines for Action  on  Children  in  the  Criminal  Justice
      System.

      81.   The Committee recommends that the State party abolish by law the
      imposition of the death penalty on persons under  18.   The  Committee
      also recommends that the State  party  consider  raising  the  age  of
      criminal responsibility and ensure that persons under 18 years are not
      tried  as  adults.   In  accordance  with  the   principle   of   non-
      discrimination contained in article 2 of the Convention, the Committee
      recommends article 29(h) of the 1986 Juvenile Justice Act  be  amended
      to ensure that boys under 18 years are covered by  the  definition  of
      juvenile, as girls already are.  The  Committee  recommends  that  the
      1986 Juvenile Justice Act be fully enforced and that the judiciary and
      lawyers be trained and  made  aware  of  it.   The  Committee  further
      recommends that measures be taken to reduce overcrowding,  to  release
      those who cannot be  given  a  speedy  trial  and  to  improve  prison
      facilities as quickly as possible.  The Committee recommends that  the
      State party ensure regular, frequent  and  independent  monitoring  of
      institutions for juvenile offenders.”


It is pursuant to the aforesaid concluding  observations  of  the  Committee
made in the year 2000 that the JJ Act was amended in the later part of  that
year by having a uniform age of 18 for both male and female juveniles.

28.   It needs to be clarified  that  the  concluding  observations  of  the
Committee under Article 45 of the UN Convention (CRC) are qua  a  particular
State party whereas  general  comments  of  the  Committee  under  the  same
Article are authoritative interpretations addressed to  all  State  parties.
The  above  distinction  between  “concluding  observations”  and   “general
comments” is highlighted to draw attention to the fact that in  the  meeting
of  the  Committee  held  in  Geneva  in  the  year  2007  certain   general
observations with regard to MCAR of  18  years  were  made  which  would  be
applicable to State parties other than India as the  law  had  already  been
amended in our country pursuant to the concluding observations made  by  the
Committee in the year  2000  specifically  qua  India.   The  views  of  the
Committee in respect of other member States may be usefully  taken  note  at
this stage by extracting  the  recommendations  in  the  nature  of  general
comments in paras 36, 37 and 38 of the Report:
      “36. The Committee also wishes to draw the attention of States parties
      to the upper age-limit for the application of the  rules  of  juvenile
      justice. These special rules - in terms  both  of  special  procedural
      rules and of rules for diversion and special measures - should  apply,
      starting at the MACR set in the country, for all children who, at  the
      time of their alleged commission of  an  offence  (or  act  punishable
      under the criminal law), have not yet reached the age of 18 years.

      “37. The Committee wishes to remind  States  parties  that  they  have
      recognized the right  of  every  child  alleged  as,  accused  of,  or
      recognized as  having  infringed  the  penal  law  to  be  treated  in
      accordance with the provisions of article 40 of CRC. This  means  that
      every person under the age of 18 years at  the  time  of  the  alleged
      commission of an offence must be treated in accordance with the  rules
      of juvenile justice.

      “38. The Committee, therefore, recommends that  those  States  parties
      which limit the applicability  of  their  juvenile  justice  rules  to
      children under the age of 16 (or lower) years, or which allow  by  way
      of exception that 16 or 17-year-old  children  are  treated  as  adult
      criminals,  change  their  laws  with  a  view  to  achieving  a  non-
      discriminatory full application of their juvenile justice rules to all
      persons  under  the  age  of  18  years.  The  Committee  notes   with
      appreciation that some States parties allow for the application of the
      rules and regulations of juvenile  justice  to  persons  aged  18  and
      older, usually till the age of 21, either as a general rule or by  way
      of                                                         exception.”


                                                           (emphasis added)


29.   Both sides have laboured  to  assist  the  Court  with  elaborate  and
detailed scientific and medical literature in support  of  their  respective
stands.  The scientific and medical opinion on the issue is not at  variance
and it cannot be.  The difference lies in the respective perceptions  as  we
will presently see.  The  works  and  opinions  placed  goes  to  show  that
studies of adolescent brain anatomy clearly indicate  that  regions  of  the
brain  that  regulate  such  things  as  foresight,  impulse   control   and
résistance to peer pressure are in a developing stage upto the  age  of  18.
These are normative phenomenon that a teenager  cannot  control  and  not  a
pathological illness or defect.  An article by Laurence  Steinberg  &  Laura
H. Carnell titled  “Should  the  Science  of  Adolescent  Brain  Development
inform Public Policy” is relied upon.  On the  basis  of  the  above  it  is
contended that there is no answer to the question when an  adolescent  brain
becomes an adult brain because the structural and  conventional  changes  do
not take place  on  a  uniform  time  scale.   It  is  further  argued  that
intellectual maturity of  an  adolescent  is  different  from  emotional  or
social maturity which makes an adolescent mature for some decisions but  not
for others, a position also highlighted by the Act  which  pre-supposes  the
capacity of a child under 18 to  consent  for  his  adoption  under  Section
41(5) of the Act.  On the said materials while the  petitioners  argue  that
the lack of uniformity of mental growth upto the relevant age i.e. 18  years
would justify individualized decisions rather than treating adolescent as  a
class the opposite view advanced is that between the  lower  and  the  upper
age, the age of 18 provides a good mid point of focus which  may  result  in
some amount of over-classification but  that  would  be  inevitable  in  any
situation and a mid point reduces the chances of over-classification to  the
minimum.  These are the varying perceptions alluded to earlier.

30.   It may be advantageous to  now  take  note  of  the  Juvenile  Justice
System working in other jurisdictions.



                                 A - CANADA

      In Canada, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, 2002 provides for  criminal
justice to  young  persons  aged  between  12  to  18  years.  The  Preamble
expressly states that the Act was enacted pursuant to  Canada’s  obligations
under the CRC. The Preamble also  declares  that  “Canadian  society  should
have a youth criminal justice  system  that  commands  respect,  takes  into
account  the  interests  of  victims,  fosters  responsibility  and  ensures
accountability through meaningful consequences and effective  rehabilitation
and reintegration, and that reserves its most serious intervention  for  the
most serious crimes and reduces the over-reliance on incarceration for  non-
violent young persons.” (emphasis added)

      While a ‘child’ is a person aged less than 12 years, a ‘young  person’
is one aged between 12 and 18 years. Section 13 establishes  “youth  justice
courts” which have exclusive jurisdiction to try  offences  committed  by  a
young person. The Act makes special provisions where a young person  commits
a “serious offence” (indictable offence punishable  with more than 5  years’
imprisonment)  and  “serious  violent  offence”  (first  and  second  degree
murder, manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, attempted murder).  Custody
sentences are reserved for violent and serious  crimes,  but  cannot  exceed
the maximum punishment that can be awarded to adults for  the  same  offence
(Section 38(2)(a)). One sentencing option is the  “Intensive  Rehabilitative
Custody and Supervision  Order”,  which  is  reserved  for  serious  violent
offenders  including  for  aggravated  sexual  assault.  When  the  offender
attains 18 years, the Court may place him in an  adult  correctional  centre
if this is in his best interest or in public interest.

      Section 34 permits the Youth Justice Court to order for the mental and
psychological assessment of the  young  person  for  the  following  reasons
only:
     a. Considering  an  application  for  release  from  or  detention  in
        custody;

     b. Deciding on an  application  for  hearing  the  offender  on  adult
        sentence;

     c. Making or reviewing a youth sentence;

     d. Considering an application relating to continuation of custody;

     e. Making an order for conditional supervision;

     f. Authorizing disclosure of information about a young person.


      Further, assessment may be ordered only where  (i)  the  offender  has
committed a serious  violent  crime,  or  (ii)  the  Court  suspects  he  is
suffering from a mental illness or disorder, or (iii)  the  offender  has  a
criminal history with repeated findings of guilt. Thus, an assessment  under
Section 34 cannot be ordered for  determining  whether  the  offender  lacks
sufficient “maturity” to be classified as  a  “juvenile/young  person”  (and
thus qualify for the benefits of the Act). This Act, like the  JJ  Act  uses
the chronological test for determining its beneficiaries. However, in  cases
of serious and serious violent crimes, the offender may be punished  by  the
Youth Justice Court with equivalent years of imprisonment as in the case  of
an adult (Sections 38 & 39).

      In its concluding remarks on Canada (dt. 05.10.2012), the Committee on
Rights of the Child expressed concern that the State had taken no  steps  to
raise the MACR and  continued  to  try  children  under  18  as  adults  (in
relation  to  the  circumstances  or  gravity  of  the   offence).   Besides
recommending the increase in MACR, the Committee also recommended  that  the
State i.e. Canada to ensure that no person under 18 is  tried  as  an  adult
irrespective of the circumstances or the gravity of the offence.[7]


                             B – UNITED KINGDOM

31.   Children less than 10 years  of  age  are  irrefutably  considered  as
incapable of  committing  an  offence.  Children  between  10-18  years  are
capable of committing offences, but are usually tried in  the  Youth  Court,
unless they have committed serious offences (such as rape  or  homicide)  or
have been charged with adults (co-defendants), in which case they are  tried
in the Crown Court. When jointly charged with  adult  co-defendants,  though
the charges must  be  framed  in  the  Magistrate’s  court  with  the  other
defendants, the juvenile should be sent to the  Crown  Court  for  trial  if
there is a “real prospect” of him being sentenced to over 2  years’  custody
period.

      The general policy of law in the UK is (i) juveniles under  18  years,
especially under 15 years, should be tried as far as possible by  the  Youth
Court, reserving trial in the Crown Court for serious cases, and (ii)  first
time offenders aged 12-14 years and all offenders under 12 years should  not
be detained in custody.
      Sentencing: “Detention  and  Training  Orders”  may  be  given  to  an
offender aged 12-17 years, the first half of which is served in custody  and
the second half is served in the community. These  usually  last  between  4
months and 2 years.

      “Extended” custodial sentences are given to  young  persons  if  their
crime is so serious that no other alternative is suitable, or if  the  young
person is a habitual offender, or if the Judge thinks the person is  a  risk
to public safety. Under S.91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts   (Sentencing)
Act, 2000, a person below 18 years who is convicted of  a  serious  offence,
may be sentenced to a period not exceeding the maximum term of  imprisonment
for adults, including life. The place  of  detention  is  a  young  offender
institution. The Sentencing Guidelines provide that a sentence  exceeding  2
years in respect of youth aged 12-17 years and accused of  a  grave  offence
should be made only when such  a  sentence  is  a  “realistic  possibility”.
Instances of such  offences  include  sexual  assault.  Where  a  person  is
convicted of murder, he must be sentenced  to  detention  at  Her  Majesty’s
pleasure.

                        C – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

32.   The US has a relatively high rate of juvenile  delinquency.  In  2011,
the number of juvenile delinquents was 129,456 out of a  population  of  250
million. Although the traditional age of majority is 18  years,  nearly  all
States permit persons less than 18 years to be tried as adults.

      For example, in California, the majority age is 18 years, but  persons
older than 14 years may be tried as adults if  they  commit  serious  crimes
(rape, robbery, murder etc.).  The  state  of  New  York  pegs  the  age  of
juvenility at 16 years, and permits the prosecution of persons aged  between
13-16  years  as   adults  in  case  of  serious  crimes.  In  Florida,  the
prosecutor has discretion to decide whether to try the juvenile as  such  or
as an adult, owing to concurrent jurisdiction of the juvenile  and  ordinary
criminal courts.
      There are three legal mechanisms that permit the juvenile to be  tried
as an adult in the States:
        i. Judicial Waiver: The juvenile judge has the discretion to  waive
           jurisdiction and transfer the case to the adult criminal courts.
           Presently, all states except Nebraska, New York, and New Mexico,
           provide for judicial waiver. This discretion is entirely left to
           the Judge in some States, whereas others provide  some  criteria
           for its exercise.  In Breed v. Jones (1975), the Court held that
           adjudicating  a  juvenile  first  in  a  juvenile  court,  which
           subsequently waived jurisdiction, followed by adjudication by an
           adult court, violated the  Fifth  Amendment  protection  against
           double jeopardy.;





       ii.  Prosecutorial  Discretion  :  Where  the  prosecutor  has   the
           discretion to decide whether to try the offender in  a  juvenile
           or adult criminal court. This is most common in cases of  repeat
           offenders;

      iii. Statutory exclusion: Where State legislation provides  that  the
           youth be tried as an adult, based on factors such as the gravity
           of the offence, prior criminal record, age of the youth etc.




       iv. Blended Sentencing: A juvenile court may  sentence  a  convicted
           juvenile offender to both  a  juvenile  sentence  and  an  adult
           sentence. The adult sentence is suspended on the condition  that
           the juvenile offender successfully completes  the  term  of  the
           juvenile  disposition  and  refrains  from  committing  any  new
           offence. For example, juvenile courts in the State of Texas  may
           award up to 40 years’ sentence to offenders.


   The trial procedure and sentencing principles applicable  to  adults  are
equally applicable in case a person under 18  years  is  transferred  to  an
adult criminal court. Juveniles  cannot,  however,  be  sentenced  to  death
(Roper v. Simmons[8]) or imprisoned for life without possibility  of  parole
(Graham v. Florida[9]).


                                 D - BRAZIL

33.   The Statute  of  the  Child  and  the  Adolescent,  1990,  enacted  in
compliance with the CRC, treats persons below 18 years (but above 12  years)
as adolescents. ‘Councils of Guardianship’, municipal  tribunals  comprising
five locally elected  members,  deal  with  cases  involving  preadolescents
(younger  children).  Juvenile  Courts  deal  with  cases  involving   older
children. Confinement and incarceration are reserved for older youths up  to
the age of 21 years.

                               E - BANGLADESH

34.   The minimum age of criminal responsibility in Bangladesh  is  9  years
(raised from 7 years in 2004). The Children Act, 1974 defines  a  child  and
youthful offender as one below 16 years of age. The  Act  provides  for  the
establishment  of  Juvenile  Courts  with  exclusive  jurisdiction  to   try
youthful offenders (Section 13, Children Act). Ordinary criminal courts  may
act as Juvenile Courts if the latter are not  established.  Procedure  under
the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 is  followed.  Section  51  prohibits  the
award of death sentence,  imprisonment  and  transportation  to  a  youthful
offender. The proviso to  this  section  provides  for  situations  (serious
crimes or where the juvenile is so unruly or depraved) permitting the  Court
to sentence him to imprisonment. However, the period of imprisonment  cannot
exceed the period of maximum punishment for adults.  It  appears  that  life
imprisonment may be awarded in these exceptional cases to juveniles.
                               F - AFGHANISTAN

35.   The Juvenile Code sets the minimum age of criminal  responsibility  at
12 years. A child is defined as a person below 18 years  of  age.  Trial  of
children in conflict  with  the  law  is  conducted  by  dedicated  Juvenile
Courts.   Juvenile   offenders   are   prosecuted   by   special   ‘Juvenile
Prosecutors’.

      Sentences  of  death  and  life  imprisonment  cannot  be  awarded  to
juveniles. For juveniles aged between 12-16  years,  1/3rd  of  the  maximum
punishment to adults can  be  awarded.  For  juveniles  aged  between  16-18
years, ½ of the maximum punishment to adults can be awarded.

                                 G - BHUTAN

36.   The minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 years.  Although  not
expressly defined, a juvenile is understood as a person below  18  years  of
age. Bhutan does not possess a special  legislation  dealing  with  juvenile
offenders; there are no specialized Juvenile courts either. Section  213  of
the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code has certain provisions regulating  the
trial of a juvenile offender. Persons below 18 years can be awarded half  of
the adult sentence.

                                  H - NEPAL

37.   The minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 years. A child  is  a
person below 16 years. Youth between 16-18 years are charged  and  tried  as
adults.

38.   The next significant aspect of the  case  that  would  require  to  be
highlighted is the differences  in  the  juvenile  justice  system  and  the
criminal justice system working in India.  This would have relevance to  the
arguments made in W.P. No.204 of 2013.   It may be convenient to notice  the
differences by means of the narration set out hereinunder:

Pre-trial Processes


Filing of FIR:


      Criminal Justice System: The system swings into action upon receipt of
information (oral or written) by the officer in charge of a  police  station
with regard to the commission of a cognizable offence.

      JJ System: Rule 11(11) of the JJ Rules, 2007 states  that  the  Police
are not required to file an FIR or a charge-sheet while dealing  with  cases
of juveniles in conflict with the law. Instead, they must  only  record  the
information of the offence in the general daily diary, followed by a  report
containing the social background  of  the  juvenile,  circumstances  of  the
apprehension and the alleged offence.

      An FIR is necessary only if the juvenile has (i) allegedly committed a
serious offence like rape or murder, or (ii)  has  allegedly  committed  the
offence with an adult.

Investigation and Inquiry:


      Criminal Justice System: Ss. 156 and 157, CrPC deals  with  the  power
and procedure of police to investigate cognizable offences. The  police  may
examine  witnesses  and  record  their  statements.  On  completion  of  the
investigation, the police officer is required to submit a  Final  Report  to
the Magistrate u/s 173(2).

      JJ System: The system contemplates the  immediate  production  of  the
apprehended juvenile before the JJ  Board,  with  little  scope  for  police
investigation. Before the first hearing, the  police  is  only  required  to
submit a report of the juvenile’s social background,  the  circumstances  of
apprehension and the alleged offence to the Board (Rule  11(11)).  In  cases
of a non-serious nature, or where apprehension of the  juvenile  is  not  in
the interests of  the  child,  the  police  are  required  to  intimate  his
parents/guardian that the details of his  alleged  offence  and  his  social
background have been submitted to the Board (Rule 11(9)).
Arrest

      Criminal Justice System: Arrest of accused persons is regulated  under
Chapter V of the CrPC. The police are empowered to arrest a person  who  has
been accused of a cognizable offence  if  the  crime  was  committed  in  an
officer’s presence  or the police officer possesses a  reasonable  suspicion
that the crime  was  committed  by  the  accused.  Further,  arrest  may  be
necessary to prevent such person  from  committing  a  further  crime;  from
causing  disappearance  or  tampering  with   evidence    and   for   proper
investigation (S.41). Persons accused of a  non-cognizable  offence  may  be
arrested only with a warrant from a Magistrate (S.41(2)).

      JJ System: The JJ Rules provide that a juvenile in conflict  with  the
law need not be apprehended  except  in  serious  offences  entailing  adult
punishment of over 7 years (Rule 11(7)). As soon as a juvenile  in  conflict
with  the  law  is  apprehended,  the  police  must  inform  the  designated
Child/Juvenile Welfare Officer, the parents/guardian of  the  juvenile,  and
the concerned Probation Officer (for the purpose of  the  social  background
report) (S.13 & R.11(1)). The juvenile  so  apprehended  is  placed  in  the
charge of the Welfare Officer. It is the Welfare Officer’s duty  to  produce
the juvenile before the Board within 24 hours (S. 10 & Rule  11(2)).  In  no
case can the police send the juvenile to lock  up  or  jail,  or  delay  the
transfer of his charge to the Welfare Officer (proviso to S.10 & R.11(3)).
Bail


      Criminal Justice System: Chapter XXXIII of the CrPC provides for bails
and bonds. Bail may  be  granted  in  cases  of  bailable  and  non-bailable
offences in accordance with Ss. 436 and  437  of  the  CrPC.  Bail  in  non-
bailable offences may  be  refused  if  there  are  reasonable  grounds  for
believing that the person is guilty of an offence punishable with  death  or
imprisonment for life, or if he has a criminal history (S.437(1)).
   JJ System: A juvenile who  is  accused  of  a  bailable  or  non-bailable
offence “shall” be released on bail or placed under the care of  a  suitable
person/institution. This is subject  to  three  exceptions:  (i)  where  his
release would bring him into association with a known criminal,  (ii)  where
his release would expose him to moral, physical or psychological danger,  or
(iii) where his release would defeat the ends of justice.  Even  where  bail
is refused, the juvenile is to be kept in an observation home or a place  of
safety (and not jail).

Trial and Adjudication



      The trial of an accused under the criminal justice system is  governed
by a well laid down procedure the essence of which is clarity of the  charge
brought against the accused; the  duty  of  the  prosecution  to  prove  the
charge by reliable and legal evidence and the presumption  of  innocence  of
the accused.  Culpability is to be determined on  the  touchstone  of  proof
beyond reasonable doubt but if convicted,  punishment  as  provided  for  is
required to be inflicted with  little  or  no  exception.   The  accused  is
entitled to seek an exoneration from the charge(s) levelled  i.e.  discharge
(amounting to an acquittal) mid course.

      JJ System: Under S.14, whenever a juvenile charged with an offence  is
brought before the JJ Board, the latter must conduct an ‘inquiry’ under  the
JJ Act. A juvenile cannot be tried with an adult (S.18).

      Determination of the age of the juvenile is required to be made on the
basis of documentary evidence  (such  as  birth  certificate,  matriculation
certificate, or Medical Board examination).

      The Board is expected to conclude the  inquiry  as  soon  as  possible
under R.13. Further, the Board  is  required  to  satisfy  itself  that  the
juvenile has not been tortured by the police or  any  other  person  and  to
take steps if ill-treatment has occurred. Proceedings must be  conducted  in
the simplest manner and  a  child-friendly  atmosphere  must  be  maintained
(R.13(2)(b)), and the juvenile must be given a right  to  be  heard  (clause
(c)). The inquiry is not to  be  conducted  in  the  spirit  of  adversarial
proceedings, a fact that the Board is expected to keep in mind even  in  the
examination of witnesses (R.13(3)). R.13(4) provides  that  the  Board  must
try to put the juvenile at  ease  while  examining  him  and  recording  his
statement; the Board must encourage him to speak without fear  not  only  of
the circumstances of the alleged  offence  but  also  his  home  and  social
surroundings. Since the ultimate object of the Act is the rehabilitation  of
the juvenile, the Board is not merely concerned with the allegations of  the
crime but also the underlying  social  causes  for  the  same  in  order  to
effectively deal with such causes.

      The Board may dispense with the attendance of the juvenile during  the
inquiry, if  thought  fit  (S.  47).  Before  the  Board  concludes  on  the
juvenile’s involvement, it must consider  the  social  investigation  report
prepared by the Welfare Officer (R.15(2)).

      The inquiry must not prolong  beyond  four  months  unless  the  Board
extends the period for special reasons  due  to  the  circumstances  of  the
case. In all non-serious crimes, delay of more than 6 months will  terminate
the trial (R.13(7)).

      Sentencing:  The  Board  is  empowered  to  pass  one  of  the   seven
dispositional  orders  u/s  15  of  the  JJ  Act:  advice/admonition,  group
counseling, community service, payment of  fine,  release  on  probation  of
good conduct and placing the juvenile under the care of parent  or  guardian
or a suitable institution, or sent to a Special home for 3  years  or  less.
Where a juvenile commits a  serious  offence,  the  Board  must  report  the
matter to the State Govt. who may keep the juvenile in  a  place  of  Safety
for not more than 3 years. A juvenile cannot be sentenced to death  or  life
imprisonment.

Post-trial Processes

      JJ System: No disqualification attaches to a juvenile who is found  to
have committed an offence. The records of his case  are  removed  after  the
expiry of period of appeal or a reasonable period.

      S. 40 of the JJ  Act  provides  that  the  rehabilitation  and  social
reintegration of the juvenile begins during his stay in  a  children’s  home
or special home. “After-care organizations” recognized by  the  State  Govt.
conduct programmes for taking care of juveniles who have left special  homes
to enable them to lead honest, industrious and useful lives.

Differences between JJ System and Criminal Justice System

      1. FIR and charge-sheet in respect of  juvenile  offenders  is  filed
         only in ‘serious cases’, where adult punishment exceeds 7 years.




      2. A juvenile in  conflict  with  the  law  is  not  “arrested”,  but
         “apprehended”, and only in case of allegations of a serious crime.




      3. Once apprehended, the police must immediately place such  juvenile
         under the care of a Welfare Officer, whose duty is to produce  the
         juvenile before the Board. Thus, the police  do  not  retain  pre-
         trial custody over the juvenile.




      4. Under no circumstances is the juvenile to be detained in a jail or
         police lock-up, whether before, during or after the Board inquiry.




      5. Grant of Bail to juveniles in conflict with the law is the Rule.




      6. The JJ board  conducts  a  child-friendly  “inquiry”  and  not  an
         adversarial trial. This is not to  say  that  the  nature  of  the
         inquiry is non-adversarial, since  both  prosecution  and  defence
         submit  their  cases.  Instead,  the  nature  of  the  proceedings
         acquires a child-friendly colour.




      7. The emphasis of criminal trials is to  record  a  finding  on  the
         guilt or innocence of the accused. In case of  established  guilt,
         the prime object of sentencing is to punish a guilty offender. The
         emphasis of juvenile ‘inquiry’ is to find the  guilt/innocence  of
         the juvenile and to investigate the underlying social or  familial
         causes of the alleged crime. Thus, the aim of juvenile  sentencing
         is to reform and rehabilitate the errant juvenile.



      8. The adult criminal system does not regulate the activities of  the
         offender once s/he has served the sentence. Since  the  JJ  system
         seeks to reform and rehabilitate the juvenile, it establishes post-
         trial avenues for the juvenile to make an honest living.



39.   Having laid bare all that is necessary for  a  purposive  adjudication
of the issues that have been raised by the rival camps we  may  now  proceed
to examine the same.

      The Act, as  manifestly  clear  from  the  Statement  of  Objects  and
Reasons, has been enacted to give full and complete effect to the  country’s
international obligations arising from India being a signatory to the  three
separate conventions delineated hereinbefore,  namely,  the  Beijing  Rules,
the UN Convention and the Havana Rules.  Notwithstanding the  avowed  object
of the Act and other such enactments to further the country’s  international
commitments, all of such laws  must  necessarily  have  to  conform  to  the
requirements of a valid legislation judged in the context  of  the  relevant
constitutional provisions and the judicial verdicts rendered  from  time  to
time.  Also, that the Act is a beneficial  piece  of  legislation  and  must
therefore receive its due interpretation as a legislation belonging  to  the
said category has been laid down by a Constitution Bench of  this  Court  in
Pratap Singh vs.  State of Jharkhand and Another[10].  In other  words,  the
Act must  be  interpreted  and  understood  to  advance  the  cause  of  the
legislation and to confer the benefits of  the  provisions  thereof  to  the
category of persons for whom the legislation has been made.

40.   Dr. Swamy at the outset has urged that there  is  no  attempt  on  his
part to challenge the constitutional validity of the Act, particularly,  the
provisions contained in Sections 2(k) and 2(l) of the Act and what he  seeks
is a mere reading down of the Act.  It is not very difficult  to  understand
the reason for the argument; Dr. Swamy seeks to overcome what  he  perceives
to be a bar to a direct challenge on account of the decision of  this  Court
in Salil Bali (supra).  But if the argument advanced if is to be carried  to
the fullest extent the implication is obvious.  If the  Act  is  not  to  be
read  down,  as  urged,  it   will   stand   invalidated   on   grounds   of
unconstitutionality.  The argument, therefore, is really the other  side  of
the same coin which has been cast by Dr. Hingorani who  is  more  forthright
in his challenge to the validity of the Act  on  the  twin  grounds  already
noticed, namely, that the Act would result  in  over-classification  if  all
juveniles, irrespective of the level of mental maturity, are to  be  grouped
in one class and on the further ground that the Act  replaces  the  criminal
justice system in the country and therefore derogates  a  basic  feature  of
the Constitution.  If the arguments are to be understood and  examined  from
the aforesaid perspective, the conclusion is obvious –  what  the  Court  is
required to consider, apart from the incidental and side issues which  would
not be of much significance, is whether the Act would survive  the  test  of
constitutionality if the same is not  to  be  read  and  understood  in  the
manner urged.  Of course, if the constitutionality of the Act is  to  become
suspect, the further question, as we have already indicated, is what  should
be the course of action that would be open to this Coordinate Bench in  view
of the decision in Salil Bali (supra).

41.   Dr. Swamy would urge that the relevant  provisions  of  the  Act  i.e.
Sections 1(4), 2(k), 2(l)  and  7  must  be  read  to  mean  that  juveniles
(children below the age of  18)  who  are  intellectually,  emotionally  and
mentally mature enough to understand the implications of their acts and  who
have committed serious crimes do not come under  the  purview  of  the  Act.
Such juveniles are liable to be dealt  with  under  the  penal  law  of  the
country and by the regular hierarchy of courts under  the  criminal  justice
system  administered  in  India.   This  is  what  was   intended   by   the
legislature; a plain reading, though, shows  an  unintended  omission  which
must be made up or furnished by the Court.  It is further urged that if  the
Act is not read in the above manner the fall out would render  the  same  in
breach of Article 14  as  inasmuch  as  in  that  event  there  would  be  a
blanket/flat categorisation of all juveniles,  regardless  of  their  mental
and  intellectual  maturity,  committing  any  offence,  regardless  of  its
seriousness,  in  one  homogenous  block  in   spite   of   their   striking
dissimilarities.  This, Dr. Swamy contends, is a classification beyond  what
would be permissible under Article 14 in as  much  as  the  result  of  such
classification does not further the  targeted  object  i.e.  to  confer  the
benefits of the Act to persons below 18 who are not  criminally  responsible
in view of the low level of mental maturity reached or achieved.   This,  in
substance, is also the argument of Dr.  Hingorani,  who,  in  addition,  has
contended that the Act replaces the criminal  justice system of the  country
by a scheme which is not even a poor  substitute.   The  substituted  scheme
does not even remotely fit with constitutional  tapestry  woven  by  certain
basic features namely the existence of a criminal justice system.

42.   Reading down the provisions of a statute cannot be  resorted  to  when
the meaning thereof is plain and unambiguous and the legislative  intent  is
clear.  The fundamental principle of the  “reading  down”  doctrine  can  be
summarized as follows.  Courts must read the legislation  literally  in  the
first  instance.   If  on  such  reading  and  understanding  the  vice   of
unconstitutionality is attracted, the courts must explore whether there  has
been an unintended legislative omission.   If  such  an  intendment  can  be
reasonably implied  without  undertaking  what,  unmistakably,  would  be  a
legislative  exercise,  the  Act  may  be  read  down  to   save   it   from
unconstitutionality.  The above  is  a  fairly  well  established  and  well
accepted principle of interpretation which having been  reiterated  by  this
Court time and again would obviate the necessity of any recall of  the  huge
number of precedents available except,  perhaps,  the  view  of  Sawant,  J.
(majority view) in Delhi Transport Corporation vs. D.T.C.  Mazdoor  Congress
and  Others[11]  which  succinctly  sums  up  the  position  is,  therefore,
extracted below.

        “255. It is thus clear that the doctrine  of  reading  down  or  of
        recasting the statute can be applied in limited situations.  It  is
        essentially used, firstly, for saving a statute from  being  struck
        down on account of its unconstitutionality. It is an  extension  of
        the principle that when two  interpretations  are  possible  —  one
        rendering   it   constitutional   and   the   other    making    it
        unconstitutional,   the   former   should   be    preferred.    The
        unconstitutionality may spring from either the incompetence of  the
        legislature to enact the statute or from its violation  of  any  of
        the provisions of the  Constitution.  The  second  situation  which
        summons its aid is where the provisions of the  statute  are  vague
        and ambiguous and it is possible to gather the  intentions  of  the
        legislature from the object of the statute, the  context  in  which
        the provision occurs and the purpose for which it is made. However,
        when the provision is cast in a definite and  unambiguous  language
        and its intention is clear, it is not permissible either to mend or
        bend it even if such recasting is in accord with  good  reason  and
        conscience. In such circumstances, it is not possible for the court
        to remake the statute. Its only duty is to strike it down and leave
        it to the legislature if it  so  desires,  to  amend  it.  What  is
        further, if the remaking of the statute by the courts is to lead to
        its distortion that course is to be scrupulously  avoided.  One  of
        the situations further where the doctrine can never be called  into
        play  is  where  the  statute  requires  extensive  additions   and
        deletions. Not only it is no part of the court’s duty to  undertake
        such exercise, but it is beyond its jurisdiction to do so.”

43.   In the present case there is no difficulty in understanding the  clear
and unambiguous meaning of the different provisions of the  Act.   There  is
no ambiguity, muchless any uncertainty, in the language used to convey  what
the legislature had intended.  All persons below the age of 18  are  put  in
one class/group by the Act to provide a separate  scheme  of  investigation,
trial and punishment for offences committed by them.  A class of persons  is
sought to be created who are treated differently.  This  is  being  done  to
further/effectuate the views  of the  international  community  which  India
has shared by being a signatory to  the  several  conventions  and  treaties
already referred to.

44.   Classification  or  categorization  need  not  be  the  outcome  of  a
mathematical or arithmetical precision in the similarities  of  the  persons
included in a class  and  there  may  be  differences  amongst  the  members
included within a particular class.  So long as the broad  features  of  the
categorization are identifiable and distinguishable and  the  categorization
made is reasonably connected with the object targeted, Article 14  will  not
forbid such a course of action.  If the inclusion of all  under  18  into  a
class called ‘juveniles’ is understood  in  the  above  manner,  differences
inter se and within the under  18  category  may  exist.  Article  14  will,
however, tolerate the said position.  Precision  and  arithmetical  accuracy
will not exist in any categorization.  But such precision  and  accuracy  is
not what Article 14 contemplates.  The above principles have been laid  down
by this Court in a plethora of judgments and an  illustrative  reference  to
some may be made by recalling  the  decisions  in  Murthy  Match  Works  and
Others vs. The Asstt. Collector of  Central  Excise  and  Another[12],  Roop
Chand Adlakha and Others vs. Delhi  Development  Authority  and  Others[13],
Kartar Singh vs. State of Punjab[14], Basheer alias  N.P.  Basheer  vs.State
of Kerala[15], B. Manmad Reddy  and Others vs.  Chandra  Prakash  Reddy  and
Others[16], Transport and Dock Workers Union  and  Others  vs.  Mumbai  Port
Trust and Another[17] .

45.   If the provisions of the Act clearly indicate the  legislative  intent
in the light of the country’s international commitments and the same  is  in
conformity with the constitutional requirements, it  is  not  necessary  for
the Court to understand the legislation in any other manner.   In  fact,  if
the Act is plainly read and understood, which  we  must  do,  the  resultant
effect thereof is wholly consistent with Article 14.   The  Act,  therefore,
need not  be  read  down,  as  suggested,  to  save  it  from  the  vice  of
unconstitutionality for such unconstitutionality does not exist.

46.   That in certain foreign jurisdictions,  details  of  which  have  been
mentioned earlier to bring about clarity  and  completeness  to  the  issues
arising, the position is otherwise would hardly be  of  any  consequence  so
far as our country is concerned. Contrary  international  opinion,  thinking
or practice, even  if  assumed,  does  not  dictate  the  legislation  of  a
sovereign nation.  If the legislature has adopted  the  age  of  18  as  the
dividing  line  between  juveniles  and  adults  and  such  a  decision   is
constitutionally permissible the enquiry by the Courts must come to an  end.
 Even otherwise there is a considerable  body  of  world  opinion  that  all
under 18 persons ought to be treated as  juveniles  and  separate  treatment
ought to be meted out to them so far as offences committed by  such  persons
are concerned.  The avowed object  is  to  ensure  their  rehabilitation  in
society and to enable the young offenders to become useful  members  of  the
society  in  later  years.   India  has  accepted  the  above  position  and
legislative wisdom has led to the enactment of the JJ  Act  in  its  present
form.  If the Act has treated all under 18 as a separate  category  for  the
purposes of  differential treatment so far as  the  commission  of  offences
are  concerned,  we  do  not  see  how  the  contentions  advanced  by   the
petitioners to the contrary on the strength of the  thinking  and  practices
in other jurisdictions can have any relevance.

47.   In the earlier paragraphs of this report we have  analyzed  in  detail
the difference between the  criminal  justice  system  and  the  system  for
dealing with offenders under the JJ Act.   The  Act  does  not  do  away  or
obliterate the enforcement of the law  insofar  as  juvenile  offenders  are
concerned.  The  same  penal  law  i.e.  Indian  Penal  Code  apply  to  all
juveniles.  The only difference is that a different  scheme  for  trial  and
punishment is introduced by the Act  in  place  of  the  regular  provisions
under the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure  for  trial  of  offenders  and  the
punishments under the Indian Penal Code.   The  above  situation  is  vastly
different from what was before the Court in Mithu (supra) and also  in  Dadu
(supra).  In Mithu (supra) a separate treatment of the accused found  guilty
of a second incident of murder during the currency of the  sentence  for  an
earlier offence of murder was held to be  impermissible  under  Article  14.
Besides the absence of any judicial discretion, whatsoever,  in  the  matter
of imposition of sentence for a second Act of murder was held to be “out  of
tune” with the constitutional philosophy of  a  fair,  just  and  reasonable
law.  On the other hand in Dadu (supra), Section 32A of the NDPS  Act  which
had ousted the jurisdiction of the  Court  to  suspend  a  sentence  awarded
under the  Act  was  read  down  to  mean  that  the  power  of  suspension,
notwithstanding Section 32A of the NDPS Act, can still be exercised  by  the
appellate court but subject to  the  conditions  stipulated  in  Section  37
namely (i) there are reasonable grounds for believing that  the  accused  is
not guilty of such offence; and (ii) that he is not  likely  to  commit  any
offence while on bail are satisfied.  Nothing as sweeping and as drastic  in
Mithu (supra) and Dadu (supra) has been introduced by the provisions of  the
Act so as to enable us to share the view expressed  by  Dr.  Hingorani  that
the Act sets at naught all the essential features of  the  criminal  justice
system and introduces a scheme which  is  abhorrent  to  our  constitutional
values.  Having taken the above view, we do not  consider  it  necessary  to
enter  in  the  consequential  arena,  namely,  the  applicability  of   the
provisions of Article 20(3) of the Constitution and Section 300 of the  Code
of Criminal Procedure to the facts of the present case as on the  view  that
we have taken no question of sending the juvenile – Raju to face  a  regular
trial can and does arise.

48.   Before parting, we would like to  observe  that  elaborate  statistics
have been laid before us to show the extent of serious crimes  committed  by
juveniles and the increase in the rate of such crimes, of late.   We  refuse
to be tempted to enter into the  said  arena  which  is  primarily  for  the
legislature to consider.  Courts must take care not to express  opinions  on
the sufficiency or adequacy of such figures and should confine its  scrutiny
to the legality and not the necessity of the law to be  made  or  continued.
We would be justified to recall the observations of Justice Krishna Iyer  in
Murthy March Works (supra) as the  present  issues  seem  to  be  adequately
taken care of by the same:
      “13.  Right at the threshold we must warn ourselves of the limitations
      of judicial power in  this  jurisdiction.  Mr  Justice  Stone  of  the
      Supreme Court of the United States has delineated these limitations in
      United States v. Butler (1936) 297 US 1 thus:

           “The power of Courts to declare a  statute  unconstitutional  is
           subject to two guiding principles of decision which ought  never
           to be absent from judicial consciousness. One is that Courts are
           concerned only with the power to enact statutes, not with  their
           wisdom. The other is that  while  unconstitutional  exercise  of
           power  by  the  executive  and  legislative  branches   of   the
           government is subject to judicial restraint, the only check upon
           our exercise of power is our own sense of self-restraint For the
           removal of unwise laws from the statute books appeal lies not to
           the Courts but to the ballot and to the processes of  democratic
           Government.”


      14. In short, unconstitutionality and not unwisdom of a legislation is
      the  narrow  area  of   judicial   review.   In   the   present   case
      unconstitutionality is alleged as springing from lugging together  two
      dissimilar categories of match manufacturers into one compartment  for
      like treatment.


      15. Certain principles which bear upon classification may be mentioned
      here. It is true that a State may classify persons and objects for the
      purpose of legislation and pass laws  for  the  purpose  of  obtaining
      revenue  or  other   objects.   Every   differentiation   is   not   a
      discrimination. But classification can be  sustained  only  if  it  is
      founded on  pertinent  and  real  differences  as  distinguished  from
      irrelevant and artificial ones. The constitutional standard  by  which
      the sufficiency of the  differentia  which  form  a  valid  basis  for
      classification may be measured, has  been  repeatedly  stated  by  the
      Courts. If it rests on a  difference  which  bears  a  fair  and  just
      relation to the object for which it is proposed, it is constitutional.
      To put it differently, the means must have nexus with the  ends.  Even
      so, a large latitude is allowed to the State for classification upon a
      reasonable basis and what is reasonable is  a  question  of  practical
      details and a variety of factors which the Court will be reluctant and
      perhaps  ill-equipped  to  investigate.  In   this   imperfect   world
      perfection even in grouping is an ambition hardly  ever  accomplished.
      In this context, we have to  remember  the  relationship  between  the
      legislative  and   judicial   departments   of   Government   in   the
      determination of the validity of classification.  Of  course,  in  the
      last  analysis  Courts  possess  the  power  to   pronounce   on   the
      constitutionality  of  the  acts  of  the  other  branches  whether  a
      classification is based upon substantial differences or is  arbitrary,
      fanciful and consequently illegal. At the same time, the  question  of
      classification is primarily for legislative  judgment  and  ordinarily
      does not become  a  judicial  question.  A  power  to  classify  being
      extremely broad and  based  on  diverse  considerations  of  executive
      pragmatism, the Judicature cannot rush in where even  the  Legislature
      warily treads. All these operational restraints on judicial power must
      weigh more emphatically where the subject is taxation.”
                                                          (Emphasis is ours)


49.   On the above note we deem it appropriate to part  with  the  cases  by
dismissing the appeal filed by Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Others as  well  as
the writ petition filed by the parents of  the  unfortunate  victim  of  the
crime.






                                       ...…………………………CJI.
                                        [P. SATHASIVAM]



                                        .........………………………J.
                                        [RANJAN GOGOI]



                                                       …..........……………………J.
                                        [SHIVA KIRTI SINGH]
NEW DELHI,
MARCH 28, 2014.
-----------------------
[1]    (2013) 3 SCALE 1
[2]    (1983) 2 SCC 277
[3]    (2000) 8 SCC 437
[4]    (2013) 4 SCC 705
[5]    (1989) 3 SCC 151
[6]    (2012) 10 SCC 1
[7]    Committee on the Rights of the Child, 61st Session, 05 October 2012,

         CRC/C/CAN/CO/3-4, paras 85-86, p.20.
[8]    543 US 551 (2005)
[9]    560 US 48 (2010)
[10]   (2005) 3 SCC 551
[11]   1991 Supp. (1) SCC 600
[12]   (1974) 4 SCC 428
[13]   1989 Supp (1) SCC 116
[14]   (1994) 3 SCC 569
[15]   (2004) 3 SCC 609
[16]   (2010) 3 SCC 314
[17]   (2011) 2 SCC 575

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