Is the reformation goal under JJ Act 2015 making juveniles more emboldened in committing heinous crimes? SC asks Centre to take steps before it’s too late

Supreme Court: In the Kathua Rape and murder case where one of the accused was found to be taking the statutory shelter under the guise of being a minor, the bench of Ajay Rastogi and JB Pardiwala*, JJ observed that it was gathering an impression that the leniency with which the juveniles are dealt with in the name of goal of reformation is making them more and more emboldened in indulging in such heinous crimes.

Observing that the rising rate of juvenile delinquency in India is a matter of concern and requires immediate attention, the Court said that

“There is a school of thought, existing in our country that firmly believes that howsoever heinous the crime may be, be it single rape, gangrape, drug peddling or murder but if the accused is a juvenile, he should be dealt with keeping in mind only one thing i.e., the goal of reformation. The school of thought, we are taking about believes that the goal of reformation is ideal. The manner, in which brutal and heinous crimes have been committed over a period of time by the juveniles and still continue to be committed, makes us wonder whether the Act, 2015 has subserved its object.”

The Court, hence, suggested that it was time for the Government to consider whether its enactment of 2015 has proved to be effective or something still needs to be done in the matter before it is too late in the day.

[State of Jammu and Kashmir v. Shubam Sangra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1592, , decided on 16.11.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice JB Pardiwala


For State: Sr Adv P.S. Patwalia

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