J&K High Court directs State Government to consider reducing the age of juvenility

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court

Jammu & Kashmir  High Court: The Jammu Bench of the J&K HC  heard a petition by a retired J&K Police officer who, based on his 34-year experience, approached the Court to draw its attention towards the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013, which is similar to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of the Children) Act enacted for the rest of India to lay down guidelines for treatment of minor offenders. This Act was amended by Parliament in 2016, reducing the age of juvenility from 18 to 16 in cases of heinous crimes. But no corresponding amendment was made to the J&K Act, as the State, due to its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution adopts laws enacted by Parliament of India only after due ratification by the State legislative assembly.

The petitioner contended that there is no scientific study to show that offenders aged under 18 years have no knowledge of the consequences of the crime, and over his career, he has observed the rise in juvenile crime and has studied the ideologies of such offenders. The petitioner has challenged the constitutionality of Sections 2(m), 2(m), and 21 of the J&K JJ Act as they are in contravention of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and endanger the society as a whole.

To this, the respondent answered that though the Court cannot issue a writ of mandamus to the State Government to bring about an amendment, it can direct it to consider doing so. The petitioner and the Bench agreed, keeping in reference the case of A.K. Roy v. Union of India, (1982) 1 SCC 271. Accordingly, the Court directed the State Government to consider decreasing the age of juvenility and take requisite steps. [Farooq Khan v. State,  2018 SCC OnLine J&K 270, order dated 01.05.2018]

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