Law

Juvenile Justice Board Rules to Try Accused in Mercedes Hit-and-Run Case as an Adult; Activists Cry Foul

It is the first of its kind case since the amendment in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, which allowed the board to transfer cases of heinous offences by children to sessions courts.

Mercedes Hit n Run

The juvenile accused of mowing down and killing a 32-year-old marketing executive in Delhi in April in a hit-and-run case will be tried as an adult, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) ruled on June 4. Allowing the Delhi police to forward his case to a regular court, the board said his alleged offence was “heinous”.

The accused had turned major just four days after the April 4 incident.

It is the first of its kind case since the amendment in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, which allowed the board to transfer cases of heinous offences by children to sessions courts. As per section 2(33) of the Act, “heinous offences” include those for which the minimum punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law in force is imprisonment for seven years or more.

The police had on May 26 chargesheeted the juvenile in the JJB for the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which entails a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment.

The incident, however, has again ignited a debate over juveniles being tried as adults, with many activists and organisations saying the JJB’s decision is “incorrect” and that the Juvenile Justice Act does not allow an offence under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) to be included under “heinous offences”.

“We have serious issues with the order. Firstly the particular crime in which this juvenile was allegedly involved does not qualify him to be tried as an adult. The reason being that, it was a case of accident which should have attracted section 304 A which offers maximum punishment of 2 years. And it cannot be taken as heinous crime,” said Amod K. Kant, a former IPS officer and founder of Prayas, an NGO working for child rights.

Meanwhile, the Delhi police welcomed the decision, calling it a big victory of prosecution. The accused was initially booked for the charge of rash driving and negligence causing death, but having later considered his prior record of rash and negligent driving (which in itself in unlawful in case of a minor), the police slapped the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The matter will come up for hearing before the special children’s court headed by a sessions Judge on June 9.

(With PTI inputs)