AIR 2020 SC 405
Name of judges:
Bench of DEEPAK GUPTA and ANIRUDDHA BOSE
Name of the Petitioner and the Respondent:
SHILPA MITTAL v. STATE OF NCT OF DELHI & ANR. (AIR 2020 SC 405)
The case study is about the Juvenile Justice Act related to committing offence punishable under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment or imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine in the first part (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine in the second part (Intention of causing death or causing bodily injury as is likely to cause death). This case is about whether the act of Juvenile is punishable as an adult or not under Indian Penal Code Act, 1860.
Fact of the case:
The juvenile is accused of committing an offence punishable under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code ,1860. At the time of committing an offence, the juvenile was between the age of 16 and 18.
In the Children’s Court the case was rejected. After that the Juvenile with his mother went to the High Court of Delhi. The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi states that the offence did not fall under the jurisdiction of section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act ,2015 on the ground that no minimum term had been defined or established for it.
After that, the sister of the deceased appealed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Sections 2(33), 2(45), and 2(54) speak about heinous, minor and serious offences respectively. Heinous offences mean those offences for which the sentence/punishment is a minimum of 7 years imprisonment or more under the Indian Penal Code or any other applicable law. Advocate Siddharth Luthra here in the case represented as appellants attorney, brings out to the court’s attention the omission of Juvenile Justice Acts of the fourth category of offences, which include homicide not amounting to murder. The minimum sentence is for those less than 7 years or for which there is no minimum sentence prescribed but the maximum sentence can be more than 7 years. It is particularly relevant to the offence of the present case. He succeeded in convincing the Hon’ble court, to get rid of or abolish the word “minimum” from the definition of” heinous crimes “provided under section 2(33) because of that all offences except for the petty and serious ones consequently falls under the heading of “heinous offences. “The juvenile's attorney argued that the court could not change the statute. The court could not rewrite the law, the statute could only be corrected by the legislature itself. The counsel for respondents (Mukul Rohatgi) also submitted that the intention of the legislature cannot be heeded only on the one reason for leaving out the fourth category of offences through this Act.
Whether Section 2(33) of the juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,2015 is applicable to this juvenile? and how is it interpreted?
What kind of offence specifically not included in the law but that the appellant claim should be included as an offence applicable to a juvenile?
Contention of the Appellant:
The Appellant's claim that there was one type of crime which is included in the fourth category of offence was not contended in the Act of 2015, states that the heinous crimes are those that carry a “minimum “sentence of seven years or more. It was claimed that the intention of the legislature was not intended to bring about an excluded category. The council for appellant argued that the Act had an indefinite gap in it and because of that reason we were unable to understand or did not identify anything.
It was also claimed that the word ‘includes “was used in the definition of “heinous offenses” insinuated that the definition is inclusive and the things enclosed in it are not mentioned in the definition itself.
Contention of the Respondent:
The attorney for respondent argued that the Court has no power to amend or rewrite the law therefore, the court did not ascertain the intention of the legislature in the category of offence that was not stated. It is not possible even if the court had to fulfil the gap in the Act in this case.
Judgment of Supreme Court:
The court dismissed the appeal by undertaking the issue and overruling that an offence that does not carry a minimum punishment of seven years can not be considered awful. The Act, however does not state about the fourth category of offences which dealt with the offences where the maximum punishment of sentence is more than seven years imprisonment but no minimum punishment of sentence a minimum punishment of shortened than seven years imprisonment is provided, shall be treated as “serious offences “within the ambit of the Act and appropriated with accordingly until Parliament takes a call on the matter.
The court has no power to add or remove terms from the statute to give it a meaning that the Legislatures objective to deal with using this approach. It means that the objective of the Legislature is not the same as that of the objective of the judge.
The court also ordered the High Court to remove the child’s name from the child in conflict with the Law registry. As a result, the case was resolved in favour of the child that is granted leave.
The purpose of the Act of 2015 is to make certain that the children coming in conflict with the law are treated separately and not like the act committed by adults. From the statement of objects and reasons in the Bill, it can be clear that the Act is meant to adjudicate and dispose of the case in the best interest of the child. The purpose of classification of these offences in this Act was to check the psychological changes and physical capacity of the child offender while committing the offence, specially of those juveniles between the ages of 16-18 that is the offender treated as an adult. The court has no power to add or subtract the words or read the words which are not in the statute.
This article is written by Anuradha Nikhil Dombe.