Why SC held that a Juvenile aged between 16-18 years cannot be tried as an adult for committing offence U/S 304 IPC?

  • A ‘X’ ran down a young man with his over speeding Mercedes Benz. Also before this incident thrice traffic violations were reported against his father’s car which was driven by him. The juvenile at the time of accident was above 16 years but below 18 years.
  • As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 there are three types of offences.
  1. Heinous offences includes the offences for which the minimum punishment under the or any other law is imprisonment for seven years or more;
  2. Petty offences includes the offences for which the maximum punishment under the IPC or any other law is imprisonment upto three years;
  3. Serious offences includes the offences for which the punishment under the IPC or any other law is imprisonment between three to seven years.
  • Cases of petty and serious offences are to be disposed of by the Board, by following summons cases under the Cr.PC.
  • In case of heinous offences the Juvenile Justice Board can conduct a preliminary assessment with regard to the mental capacity and ability to understand the consequences of the committed by the juvenile. If the board finds that there is a need for a trial as an , then he will be tried in a Children’s Court.
  • The offence committed by the juvenile comes under Sec 304 of the IPC, the punishment for which may extend to ten years, but there is no minimum punishment mentioned. So, the offence doesn’t categorised into the petty, serious or heinous under Juvenile Justice Act.
  • The held that such type of offences are to be treated as ‘Serious Offences’ for Juvenile Justice Act.
  • The Supreme Court used the power of Art. 142 of the Constitution and held that category of offences viz., offence where the maximum sentence is less than 7, shall be treated as ‘Serious Offence’ within the meaning of Juvenile Justice Act. 
  • The Supreme Court observed that the scheme of  the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is that children should be protected. And treating children as an adult is an exception.

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