New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Monday asked for the Union government’s response to a plea that seeks a fresh interpretation of the term `juvenile’ on the basis of the “mental and intellectual maturity” of such offenders instead of just their age.
“Issue notice. Meanwhile, give a copy (of petition) to the Union of India,” a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said on Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy's petition.
The bench also decided to tag the plea of Swamy with other petitions saying they “more or less” also deal with the similar issues.
During hearing, Swamy said the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act or JAA provides for a ”straitjacket” interpretation of term juvenile that a person below the age of 18 years is a minor, and this was in violation of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Beijing Rules on the issue.
The UNCRC and Beijing Rules say the presumption of “the age of criminal responsibility” be fixed while “bearing in mind the mental and intellectual maturity” of offender, he said.
A provision of the JJ Act says “'juvenile' or 'child' means a person who has not completed eighteenth year of age.”
“I submit, that since it was the intention of Parliament, as stated in the Preamble, to enact JJA in consonance with the ratified UNCRC and Beijing Rules it is prayed that this Court, after hearing the UOI if necessary, may read the words ‘mental and intellectual maturity' into the wording of Section 2(k) on the age of innocence,” he said.
Swamy, in his plea, also cited the alleged role of a juvenile in the December 16 gang rape of a 23-year old girl in a moving bus here who later died at a Singapore hospital.
The present interpretation of term juvenile has the effect of “nullifying” the fundamental right to life of the victim, he said in the plea.