The Supreme Court (SC) of India on 6 April 2015 asked the Union Government to re-examine the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and make it more stringent at least in cases pertaining to heinous crimes like rape and murder.
Further, the apex court noted that a juvenile cannot get away by claiming that he is too young to understand the consequences of his crime and a message had to be sent that the victim's life was equally important.
The court also noted the number of cases against juveniles had spiked, a statement backed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which says the number of rapes committed by juveniles jumped by a massive 300 percent and juvenile crime rose by 78 percent in the last decade.
In this light, it asked the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to consult competent authorities and suggest to it whether the relevant laws can be re-looked, re-scrutinised and re-visited so that it has a deterrent effect.
The direction was given by the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice PC Pant while hearing an appeal against the decision of Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC) that awarded life sentence to a murder accused.
However, the accused challenged the ruling of Punjab and Haryana HC in the SC on the ground that he was less than 18 years old at the time of the alleged crime in May 2000.
What does the JJ Act, 2000 says?
The demand to amend the JJ Act gained momentum after the brutal Nirbhaya case of December 2012 in which the most brutal offender out of six was below 18 but was given only three years of punishment.
The Act defines a juvenile who is 16 years old and provides for children-sensitive approach towards prevention and treatment of underage offenders.
Under the existing law, a juvenile convict is not sent to jail but tried by a board with the maximum punishment being three years in an observation home, a provision that critics say is too lenient for serious offenses.
When: 6 April 2015