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An offence committed by juvenile, having punishment more than 7 years, with no minimum punishment, would be treated as serious offence under the JJ act - trial as a juvenile; SC


Supreme Court of India

Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose

The SC has considered the following question in present case :

"Whether an offence prescribing a maximum  sentence of more than 7 years imprisonment but not providing  any minimum sentence, or providing a minimum sentence of less  than 7 years, can be considered to be a ‘heinous offence’ within  the meaning of Section 2(33) of The Juvenile Justice (Care and  Protection of Children) Act, 2015?”  

The SC {SHILPA MITTAL v. STATE OF NCT OF DELHI & ANR.} holds that an offence , which does not provide a minimum sentence of 7 years, cannot be treated to be an heinous offence.  However, as the Act does not deal with the 4th  category of offences viz., offence where the maximum sentence is more  than 7 years imprisonment,   but   no   minimum   sentence   or   minimum sentence of less than 7 years is provided, shall be  treated as ‘serious offences’ within the meaning of the Act  and dealt with accordingly till the Parliament takes the call on the  matter.

It was held that the SC cannot fill the gap by saying that these offences  should be treated as heinous offences.  Whereas on the one hand there are some offences in this category which may in  general parlance be   termed   as   heinous, there     are   many   other   offences   which cannot be called as heinous offences.  It is not for  this Court to legislate.    It was held that the court   may   fill   in   the   gaps   but   it  cannot   enact   a legislation, especially when the Legislature itself has enacted one.

Keeping in mind the fact that the scheme of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)  Act, 2015 is that children should be protected.  Treating children  as adults is an exception to the rule.   It was held   that it is also a well-settled principle of statutory interpretation that normally an exception  has to be given a restricted meaning. Accordingly,   the appeal was disposed of.



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