New Delhi: A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the recently-passed juvenile law that allows delinquent minors of 16 years of age and above to be tried as adults if they commit heinous offences like rape and murder.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, cleared in the winter session of Parliament, repeals and recasts the old Act.
The PIL, filed by Congress leader and activist Tahseen Poonawalla, said that the new law is unreasonable, arbitrary and in violation of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.
It challenges section 15 of the new Act which says in case of a heinous offence alleged to have been committed by a child, who has completed or is above the age of 16 years, the Juvenile Justice Board shall conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether a juvenile offender is to be sent for rehabilitation or be tried as an adult.
The plea said the impugned amended Act is "draconian and unconstitutional" which instead of providing care and protection to children deems them as adult in cases where the alleged commission of crime by them is heinous in nature.
It further said that the amendment goes against the letter and spirit of The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is against the protection accorded to Child and adolescent criminals since 1800s.
On January 4, the President of India has accorded his assent to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
The Act also allows that any 16-18-year-old who commits a less serious offence may be tried as an adult only if he is apprehended after the age of 21 years.
As soon as a child alleged to be in conflict with the law is apprehended by police, such a child shall be placed under the charge of the special juvenile police unit or the designated child welfare police officer who shall produce the child before the Juvenile Justice Board without any loss of time but within a period of 24 hours of apprehending the child.