Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

 

 

REPORTABLE

 

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL/CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

 

WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 10 OF 2013

 

 

SALIL BALI                                              … PETITIONER

 

VS.

 

UNION OF INDIA & ANR.                           … RESPONDENTS

 

WITH

W.P.(C)NOS.14, 42, 85, 90 and 182 OF 2013

WITH

W.P.(CRL)NO.6 OF 2013

AND

T.C.(C)No. 82 OF 2013

 

 

J U D G M E N T

 

 

ALTAMAS KABIR, CJI.

 

 

  1. Seven Writ Petitions and one Transferred Case  have  been  taken  up

together for consideration in view of the commonality  of  the  grounds  and

reliefs prayed for therein.  While in Writ Petition  (C)  No.  14  of  2013,

Saurabh Prakash Vs. Union of India, and Writ Petition (C) No.  90  of  2013,

Vinay K. Sharma Vs. Union of India,  a  common  prayer  has  been  made  for

declaration of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)  Act,

2000, as ultra vires the Constitution, in Writ Petition (C) No. 10 of  2013,

Salil Bali Vs. Union of India, Writ Petition (C) No.  85  of  2013,  Krishna

Deo Prasad Vs. Union of India, Writ Petition  (C)  No.  42  of  2013,  Kamal

Kumar Pandey & Sukumar Vs. Union of India and Writ Petition (C) No.  182  of

2013, Hema Sahu Vs. Union of India, a common  prayer  has  inter  alia  been

made to strike down the provisions of Section 2(k)  and  (l)  of  the  above

Act, along with a prayer to bring  the  said  Act  in  conformity  with  the

provisions of the Constitution and to direct the Respondent No.  1  to  take

steps to make changes in  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of

Children) Act, 2000, to bring it in line with the  United  Nations  Standard

Minimum Rules for administration of juvenile justice.  In  addition  to  the

above, in Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 6 of 2013, Shilpa Arora Sharma Vs.  Union

of India, a prayer has inter alia been made to appoint a panel  of  criminal

psychologists to determine through clinical methods whether the juvenile  is

involved in the Delhi gang rape on 16.12.2012.  Yet,  another  relief  which

has been prayed for in common during the oral submissions made on behalf  of

the Petitioners was that in offences like rape and murder, juveniles  should

be tried  under  the  normal  law  and  not  under  the  aforesaid  Act  and

protection granted to persons up to the age of 18 years under the  aforesaid

Act may be removed and that the investigating agency should be permitted  to

keep the record of the juvenile offenders to  take  preventive  measures  to

enable them to detect  repeat  offenders  and  to  bring  them  to  justice.

Furthermore, prayers have also been made in Writ Petition (Crl.)  No.  6  of

2013 and Writ Petition (C) No.  85  of  2013,  which  are  personal  to  the

juvenile accused in the Delhi gang rape case of 16.12.2012, not  to  release

him and to keep him in custody or any place of strict  detention,  after  he

was found to be a mentally abnormal  psychic  person  and  that  proper  and

detailed investigation be conducted by the CBI to ascertain his correct  age

by examining his school documents and other records and to  further  declare

that prohibition in Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and  Protection

of Children) Act, 2000, be declared unconstitutional.

 

  1. In most of the matters, the Writ Petitioners appeared in-person,  in

support of their individual cases.

 

  1. Writ Petition (C) No.10 of 2013,  filed  by  Shri  Salil  Bali,  was

taken up as the first matter in the bunch.   The  Petitioner  appearing  in-

person urged that it was necessary for the provisions of Section 2(k),  2(l)

and 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,  2000,

to be reconsidered in the light of the  spurt  in  criminal  offences  being

committed by persons within the range of 16 to 18 years, such  as  the  gang

rape of a young woman inside  a  moving  vehicle  on  16th  December,  2012,

wherein along with others, a juvenile, who  had  attained  the  age  of  17=

years, was being tried separately  under  the  provisions  of  the  Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

 

  1. Mr. Bali submitted that the age of responsibility,  as  accepted  in

India, is different from what has been accepted by other  countries  of  the

  1. But,  Mr.  Bali  also  pointed  out  that  even  in  the   criminal

jurisprudence  prevalent  in   India,   the   age   of   responsibility   of

understanding the consequences of one’s actions had been  recognized  as  12

years in the Indian Penal Code.  Referring to Section 82 of  the  Code,  Mr.

Bali pointed out that the same provides that nothing is an offence which  is

done by a child under seven  years  of  age.   Mr.  Bali  also  referred  to

Section 83 of the Code, which provides that nothing is an offence  which  is

done by a child above seven years of age  and  under  twelve,  who  has  not

attained sufficient maturity  of  understanding  to  judge  the  nature  and

consequences of his conduct on a particular occasion.  Mr. Bali,  therefore,

urged  that  even  under  the  Indian  Criminal  Jurisprudence  the  age  of

understanding has been fixed at twelve years, which according  to  him,  was

commensurate with the thinking  of  other  countries,  such  as  the  United

States of America, Great Britain and Canada.

 

  1. In regard to  Canada,  Mr.  Bali  referred  to  the  Youth  Criminal

Justice Act, 2003, as amended from time to time, where the age  of  criminal

responsibility has been fixed at twelve years.  Referring to Section  13  of

the Criminal Code of Canada, Mr. Bali submitted that the  same  is  in  pari

materia with the provisions of Section 83 of  the  Indian  Penal  Code.   In

fact, according to the Criminal Justice Delivery System in Canada,  a  youth

between the age of 14 to 17 years may be tried and sentenced as an adult  in

certain situations.  Mr. Bali also pointed  out  that  even  in  Canada  the

Youth  Criminal  Justice  Act  governs  the  application  of  criminal   and

correctional law to those who are twelve years old  or  older,  but  younger

than 18 at the time of committing the offence, and  that,  although,  trials

were to take place in a Youth Court, for certain  offences  and  in  certain

circumstances, a youth may be awarded an adult sentence.

  1. Comparing  the  position  in  USA  and  the  Juvenile  Justice  and

Delinquency Prevention Act, 1974, he urged that while in several States,  no

set standards have been provided, reliance is placed on the common  law  age

of seven in fixing the age of criminal responsibility, the lowest being  six

years in North Carolina.  The general  practice  in  the  United  States  of

America, however, is that even for such children, the  courts  are  entitled

to impose life sentences in respect of certain types of offences,  but  such

life sentences without parole were not permitted for those under the age  of

eighteen years convicted of murder or offences involving violent crimes  and

weapons violations.

 

  1.     In England and Wales,  children  accused  of  crimes  are  generally

tried under the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, as amended by  Section

16(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1963.   Under  the  said  laws,

the minimum age of criminal responsibility  in  England  and  Wales  is  ten

years and those below the said age are considered to be  doli  incapax  and,

thus, incapable of having any mens rea, which is similar to  the  provisions

of Sections 82 and 83 of Indian Penal Code.

 

  1. Mr. Bali has also referred to the legal circumstances prevailing  in

other parts of the world wherein the  age  of  criminal  responsibility  has

been fixed between ten to sixteen years.  Mr. Bali contended that there  was

a general worldwide concern over the rising graph of  criminal  activity  of

juveniles  below  the  age  of  eighteen  years,  which  has  been  accepted

worldwide to be the age limit under which all persons were to be treated  as

  1. Mr.  Bali  sought  to  make  a  distinction  in  regard  to  the

definition of children as such in Sections 2(k) and  2(l)  of  the  Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)  Act,  2000,  and  the  level  of

maturity of the child who is capable of understanding  the  consequences  of

his actions.  He, accordingly, urged that the provisions of Sections 15  and

16 of the  Act  needed  to  be  reconsidered  and  appropriate  orders  were

required to be passed in regard to the level of  punishment  in  respect  of

heinous offences committed by children below  the  age  of  eighteen  years,

such as murder, rape,  dacoity,  etc.   Mr.  Bali  submitted  that  allowing

perpetrators of such crimes to get off with a sentence  of  three  years  at

the maximum, was not justified and a correctional course was required to  be

undertaken in that regard.

 

  1. Mr. Saurabh Prakash, Petitioner in  Writ  Petition  (C)  No.  14  of

2013, also appeared in-person and, while endorsing the submissions  made  by

Mr. Bali, went a step further in suggesting that in view of  the  provisions

of Sections 15 and 16 of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of

Children) Act, 2000, children, as defined in the above Act,  were  not  only

taking advantage of the same, but were also  being  used  by  criminals  for

their own ends.  The Petitioner reiterated Mr. Bali’s submission that  after

being awarded a maximum sentence of three years,  a  juvenile  convicted  of

heinous offences, was almost likely to become a monster in society and  pose

a great danger to others, in view of his criminal  propensities.   Although,

in the prayers to the Writ Petition, one of the reliefs prayed for  was  for

quashing the provisions of the entire Act, Mr.  Saurabh  Prakash  ultimately

urged that some of the provisions thereof were such as could  be  segregated

and struck down so as to preserve the Act as a whole.  The Petitioner  urged

that, under Article 21 of the Constitution, every citizen has a  fundamental

right to live in dignity and peace, without being subjected to  violence  by

other members of society and that by shielding  juveniles,  who  were  fully

capable of  understanding  the  consequences  of  their  actions,  from  the

sentences, as could be awarded under  the  Indian  Penal  Code,  as  far  as

adults are concerned, the State was creating a class of  citizens  who  were

not only prone to criminal activity,  but  in  whose  cases  restoration  or

rehabilitation was not possible.  Mr. Saurabh  Prakash  submitted  that  the

provisions of  Sections  15  and  16  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000,  violated  the  rights  guaranteed  to  a

citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution  and  were,  therefore,  liable

to be struck down.

 

  1. Mr. Saurabh Prakash also submitted that the  provisions  of  Section

19 of the Act, which provided for removal of disqualification  attaching  to

conviction, were also illogical and were liable to be struck down.   It  was

submitted that in order to prevent repeated offences by  an  individual,  it

was necessary to maintain the  records  of  the  inquiry  conducted  by  the

Juvenile Justice Board, in relation to juveniles so that such records  would

enable the authorities concerned to assess the  criminal  propensity  of  an

individual, which would call for a different approach to  be  taken  at  the

time of inquiry.  Mr. Saurabh Prakash urged this Court to give  a  direction

to the effect that the Juvenile  Justice  Board  or  courts  or  other  high

public authorities would have the discretion to direct that in a  particular

case, the provisions of the general law would apply to a  juvenile  and  not

those of the Act.

 

  1. Mr.  Vivek  Narayan  Sharma,  learned  Advocate,  appeared  for  the

petitioner in Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 6 of 2013, filed by one Shilpa  Arora

Sharma, and submitted that the Juvenile Justice Board should be vested  with

the discretion to impose  punishment  beyond  three  years,  as  limited  by

Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)  Act,

2000, in cases where a child, having full knowledge of the  consequences  of

his/her actions, commits a  heinous  offence  punishable  either  with  life

imprisonment or death.  Mr. Sharma submitted  that  such  a  child  did  not

deserve to be treated as a child and be allowed  to  re-mingle  in  society,

particularly when the identity of the child is to be  kept  a  secret  under

Sections 19  and  21  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of

Children) Act, 2000.  Mr. Sharma  submitted  that  in  many  cases  children

between the  ages  of  sixteen  to  eighteen  years  were,  in  fact,  being

exploited by adults to commit heinous offences who knew full well  that  the

punishment therefor would not exceed three years.

 

  1. Mr. Sharma urged  that  without  disturbing  the  other  beneficient

provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)  Act,

2000, some of the gray areas pointed  out  could  be  addressed  in  such  a

manner as would make the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)

Act, 2000, more effective and prevent the misuse thereof.

 

  1. In Writ Petition (C) No. 85 of 2013, filed by  Krishna  Deo  Prasad,

Dr. R.R. Kishor appeared for the Petitioner and gave a detailed  account  of

the manner in which  the  Juvenile  Justice  Delivery  System  had  evolved.

Referring to the doctrine of doli incapax, rebuttable presumption and  adult

responsibility,  Dr.  Kishor  contended  that  even  Article  1  of  the  UN

Convention on the Rights of the Child  defines  a  child  in  the  following

terms:

“Article 1

 

 

For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means  every

human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law

applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”

 

  1. Dr. Kishor contended that, as pointed out by  Mr.  Salil  Bali,  the

expression “child” has been defined in various ways in  different  countries

all over the world.  Accordingly, the definition of a child in Section  2(k)

of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,  2000,  would

depend on the existing laws in India defining a child.  Dr. Kishor  referred

to the provisions of the Child  Labour  (Prohibition  and  Regulation)  Act,

1986, as an example, to indicate that children up to  the  age  of  fourteen

years were treated differently from children between the  ages  of  fourteen

to eighteen, for the purposes of employment in  hazardous  industries.   Dr.

Kishor re-asserted  the  submissions  made  by  Mr.  Bali  and  Mr.  Saurabh

Prakash, in regard to heinous crimes committed by children below the age  of

eighteen years, who were capable of understanding the consequences of  their

 

  1. Dr. Kishor also referred to the provisions of Sections 82 and 83  of

the Indian Penal Code, where the age  of  responsibility  and  comprehension

has been fixed at twelve years and below.  Learned  counsel  submitted  that

having regard to  the  above-mentioned  provisions,  it  would  have  to  be

seriously considered as  to  whether  the  definition  of  a  child  in  the

Juvenile Justice (Care and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  required

  1. He urged that because a person under the age of  18  years

was considered to be a child,  despite  his  or  her  propensity  to  commit

criminal offences, which are of a heinous and even gruesome nature, such  as

offences punishable under Sections 376, 307, 302,  392,  396,  397  and  398

IPC, the said provisions have been misused and exploited  by  criminals  and

people having their own  scores  to  settle.   Dr.  Kishor  urged  that  the

definition of a “juvenile” or a “child” or  a  “juvenile  in  conflict  with

law”,  in  Sections  2(k)  and  2(l)  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children)  Act,  2000,  was  liable  to  be  struck  down  and

replaced with  a  more  meaningful  definition,  which  would  exclude  such

 

  1. Mr. Vikram  Mahajan,  learned  Senior  Advocate  appearing  for  the

Petitioner, Vinay K. Sharma, in Writ Petition (C)  No.  90  of  2013,  urged

that the right given  to  a  citizen  of  India  under  Article  21  of  the

Constitution is impinged upon by the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection

of Children) Act, 2000.  Mr. Mahajan urged that the Juvenile  Justice  (Care

and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, operates in violation of Articles  14

and 21 of the Constitution and that Article 13(2),  which  relates  to  post

Constitution laws, prohibits the State from making a law which either  takes

away totally or abrogates in part a fundamental  right.   Referring  to  the

United Nations Declaration on the Elimination  of  Violence  against  Women,

adopted by the General Assembly on 20th December, 1993, Mr. Mahajan  pointed

out that Article 1 of the Convention describes “violence against  women”  to

mean any act of gender-based violence that  results  in,  or  is  likely  to

result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm  or  suffering  to  women.

Referring to the alleged gang rape of a 23 year  old  para-medical  student,

in a moving bus, in Delhi, on 16th December,  2012,  Mr.  Mahajan  tried  to

indicate that crimes committed by juveniles had reached  large  and  serious

proportions and that there was a need to amend the law to ensure  that  such

persons were not given the benefit of lenient  punishment,  as  contemplated

under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)

Act, 2000.  From the figures cited by him,  he  urged  that  even  going  by

statistics, 1% of the total number of crimes committed in the country  would

amount to a large number and the remedy to such a problem would lie  in  the

Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, which made the provisions of the  Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,  2000,  redundant  and  ultra

vires Article 21 of the Constitution.

 

  1. Ms. Shweta Kapoor appeared in Transferred Case No. 82  of  2013  in-

person and  questioned  the  vires  of  Sections  16(1),  19(1),  49(2)  and

52(2)(a) of the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,

2000, and submitted that they were liable to be declared as ultra vires  the

  1. Referring to Section 16 of  the  aforesaid  Act,  Ms.  Kapoor

submitted that even in  the  proviso  to  Sub-section  (1)  of  Section  16,

Parliament had recognized  the  distinction  between  a  juvenile,  who  had

attained the age of sixteen years, but had committed an  offence  which  was

so serious in nature that it  would  not  be  in  his  interest  or  in  the

interest of other juveniles in a special home, to send him to  such  special

  1. Considering that none of the other measures provided under  the  Act

was suitable or sufficient,  the Government had empowered the Board to  pass

an order for the juvenile to be kept in such place of  safety  and  in  such

manner as it thought fit.  Ms. Kapoor submitted that no objection  could  be

taken to the said provision except for the  fact  that  in  the  proviso  to

Section 16(2), it has been added that the period of  detention  order  would

not exceed, in any case, the maximum limit of punishment, as provided  under

Section 15, which is three years.

 

  1. Ms. Kapoor contended that  while  the  provisions  of  the  Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,  2000,  are  generally  meant

for the benefit of the juvenile offenders, a serious attempt would  have  to

be  made  to  grade  the  nature  of  offences  to  suit   the   reformation

contemplated by the Act.

 

  1. As part of her submissions, Ms. Kapoor referred to the  decision  of

this Court in Avishek Goenka Vs. Union of India [(2012) 5 SCC 321],  wherein

the pasting of black films on glass panes  were  banned  by  this  Court  on

account of the fact that partially opaque glass panes on vehicles  acted  as

facilitators of crime.  Ms. Kapoor urged that in the  opening  paragraph  of

the judgment, it has been observed that “Alarming  rise  in  heinous  crimes

like kidnapping, sexual assault on women and dacoity have impinged upon  the

right to life and the right to live in a safe environment which  are  within

the contours of Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.  Ms.  Kapoor  also

referred to another decision of this Court in Abuzar Hossain  Vs.  State  of

West Bengal [(2012) 10 SCC 489],  which  dealt  with  a  different  question

regarding the provisions of Section 7A of the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the right of an accused to raise  the

claim of juvenility at any stage of  the  proceedings  and  even  after  the

final disposal of the case.

 

  1. In conclusion, Ms. Kapoor  reiterated  her  stand  that  in  certain

cases the definition of  a  juvenile  in  Sections  2(k)  and  2(l)  of  the

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, would have  to

be considered differently.

 

  1. The next  matter  which  engaged  our  attention  is  Writ  Petition

(Civil) No.90 of 2013 filed  by  one  Vinay  Kumar  Sharma,  praying  for  a

declaration that the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)

Act, 2000, be declared  ultra  vires  the  Constitution  and  that  children

should also be tried along with adults under the penal  laws  applicable  to

 

  1. Writ Petition (Civil) No.42 of 2013 has been filed  by  Kamal  Kumar

Pandey and Sukumar, Advocates,  inter  alia,  for  an  appropriate  writ  or

direction declaring the provisions of  Sections  2(1),  10  and  17  of  the

Juvenile Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  to  be

irrational, arbitrary, without reasonable nexus and thereby ultra vires  and

unconstitutional, and for a Writ of  Mandamus  commanding  the  Ministry  of

Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government  of  India,  to

take  steps  that  the  aforesaid  Act  operates  in  conformity  with   the

  1. In addition, a prayer was made to declare the  provisions  of

Sections 15 and 19 of the above Act ultra vires the Constitution.

 

  1. The main  thrust  of  the  argument  advanced  by  Mr.  Pandey,  who

appeared in person, was the  inter-play  between  International  Conventions

and Rules, such as the Beijing Rules,  1985,  the  U.N.  Convention  on  the

Rights of the Child, 1989, and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of

Children) Act, 2000.  While admitting  the  salubirous  and  benevolent  and

progressive character of the legislation in dealing with  children  in  need

of care and protection and with children in conflict with  law,  Mr.  Pandey

contended that a distinction was required to be made in respect of  children

with a propensity to  commit  heinous  crimes  which  were  a  threat  to  a

peaceful social order.  Mr. Pandey reiterated the submissions  made  earlier

that it was unconstitutional to place all  juveniles,  irrespective  of  the

gravity of the offences,  in one bracket.  Urging that Section 2(l)  of  the

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, ought  not  to

have placed all children in conflict with law within the same  bracket,  Mr.

Pandey  submitted  that  the  same  is  ultra  vires  Article  21   of   the

  1. Referring to the report of the National Crime Records  Bureau

(NCRB) for the years 2001 to 2011, Mr. Pandey submitted  that  between  2001

and 2011, the involvement of juveniles  in  cognizable  crimes  was  on  the

  1. Mr.  Pandey  urged  that  it   was   a   well-established   medical-

psychological fact that the level of understanding of a 16 year-old  was  at

par with that of adults.

 

  1. Mr. Pandey’s next volley was directed  towards  Section  19  of  the

Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  which

provides for the removal of any disqualification attached to an  offence  of

any nature.  Mr. Pandey submitted that the said provisions do not take  into

account the fact relating  to  repeated  offences  being  perpetrated  by  a

juvenile whose  records  of  previous  offences  are  removed.   Mr.  Pandey

contended that Section 19 of the Act was required to be  amended  to  enable

the concerned authorities to retain records of previous  offences  committed

by a juvenile for the purposes  of  identification  of  a  juvenile  with  a

propensity to repeatedly commit offences of a grievous or heinous nature.

 

  1. Mr. Pandey submitted that Parliament had  exceeded  its  mandate  by

blindly adopting eighteen as the upper limit in categorising a  juvenile  or

a  child,  in  accordance  with  the  Beijing  Rules,  1985,  and  the  U.N.

Convention, 1989, without taking into account  the  socio-cultural  economic

conditions and the legal system for administration of  criminal  justice  in

  1. Mr. Pandey urged that the Juvenile Justice (Care and  Protection  of

Children) Act,  2000,  was  required  to  operate  in  conformity  with  the

provisions of the Constitution of India.

 

  1. Ms. Hema Sahu, the petitioner in Writ Petition (Civil)  No.  182  of

2013, also appeared in person and restated the views expressed by the  other

petitioners  that  the  United  Nations  Standard  Minimum  Rules  for   the

Administration of Juvenile Justice, commonly known as the  “Beijing  Rules”,

recognized and noted the difference in the nature of offences  committed  by

juveniles in conflict with law.  Referring to the decision of this Court  in

the case commonly known as the “Bombay  Blasts  Case”,  Ms.  Sahu  submitted

that a juvenile who was tried and convicted  along  with  adults  under  the

Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), was  denied  the  protection

of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  on

account of the serious nature of the offence.  Ms. Sahu ended  on  the  note

that paragraph 4 of the 1989 Convention did not make any reference to age.

 

  1. Appearing for the Union of India, the Additional Solicitor  General,

Mr. Siddharth Luthra, strongly opposed the submissions  made  on  behalf  of

the Petitioners to either declare the  entire  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as ultra vires the Constitution or  parts

thereof,  such as Sections 2(k),  2(l),  15,  16,  17,  19  and  21.   After

referring to the aforesaid provisions of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  the  learned  ASG   submitted   that

Parliament consciously fixed eighteen years  as  the  upper  age  limit  for

treating persons as juveniles and children, taking  into  consideration  the

general trend of legislation,  not  only  internationally,  but  within  the

country as well.

 

  1. The learned ASG  submitted  that  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000, was enacted after years  of  deliberation

and in conformity with international standards as  laid  down  in  the  U.N.

Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, the Beijing  Rules,  1985,  the

Havana Rules and other  international  instruments  for  securing  the  best

interests of the child with the primary object of  social  reintegration  of

child victims and children  in  conflict  with  law,  without  resorting  to

conventional judicial proceedings which existed  for  adult  criminals.   In

the course of his submissions, the learned ASG  submitted  a  chart  of  the

various Indian statutes and the manner in which children have been  excluded

from liability under the said Acts upto the age of 18 years. In most of  the

said enactments, a juvenile/child has been  referred  to  a  person  who  is

below 18 years of age.  The learned  ASG  submitted  that  in  pursuance  of

international obligations, the Union of India  after  due  deliberation  had

taken a conscious policy decision to fix the age of a child/juvenile at  the

upper limit of 18 years.  The learned ASG urged that the fixing of  the  age

when a child ceases to be a child at 18 years is a matter  of  policy  which

could not be questioned in a court of law, unless the same  could  be  shown

to have violated any of the fundamental rights, and in  particular  Articles

14 and 21 of the Constitution.  Referring to the decision of this  Court  in

BALCO Employees Union Vs. Union of India [(2002) 2  SCC  333],  the  learned

ASG submitted that at  paragraph  46  of  the  said  judgment  it  had  been

observed that it is neither within the domain of the Courts  nor  the  scope

of judicial review to embark upon an enquiry  as  to  whether  a  particular

public policy was wise or whether something better could be evolved. It  was

further observed that the Courts were reluctant to strike down a  policy  at

the behest of  a  Petitioner  merely  because  it  has  been  urged  that  a

different policy would have been fairer or wiser or more scientific or  more

  1. The  learned  ASG  further  urged  that  Article  15(3)  of   the

Constitution empowers the State to enact special provisions  for  women  and

children, which reveals that the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection  of

Children)  Act,  2000,  was  in  conformity  with  the  provisions  of   the

  1. The learned ASG submitted that in various judgments, this Court  and

the High Courts had recognised the fact that juveniles were required  to  be

treated differently from adults so as to give such children,  who  for  some

reason had gone astray, an opportunity to  realize  their  mistakes  and  to

rehabilitate themselves and rebuild their lives.  Special mention  was  made

with regard to the decision of this Court in Abuzar Hossain (supra) in  this

  1. The learned ASG also referred to the decision  of  this  Court  in

State of Tamil Nadu Vs. K. Shyam Sunder [(2011) 8 SCC 737], wherein  it  had

been observed that merely because the  law  causes  hardships  or  sometimes

results in adverse consequences, it cannot be held to  be  ultra  vires  the

Constitution, nor can it be struck down.  The  learned  ASG  also  submitted

that it was now well-settled that reasonable classification  is  permissible

so long as such classification has a rational nexus with the  object  sought

to be achieved.  This Court has always held that the presumption  is  always

in favour of the constitutionality of an  enactment,  since  it  has  to  be

assumed that the  legislature  understands  and  correctly  appreciates  the

needs of its own people  and  its  discriminations  are  based  on  adequate

 

  1. Referring to the Reports  of  the  National  Crime  Reports  Bureau,

learned ASG pointed out that the percentage of increase  in  the  number  of

offences committed by  juveniles  was  almost  negligible  and  the  general

public perception in such matters was  entirely  erroneous.   In  fact,  the

learned ASG pointed out that even the  Committee  appointed  to  review  the

amendments to the criminal law, headed by former CJI,  J.S.  Verma,  in  its

report submitted on 23rd January, 2013, did not recommend the  reduction  in

the age of juveniles in conflict with  law  and  has  maintained  it  at  18

  1. The learned ASG pointed out that the issue of reduction in  the  age

of juveniles from 18 to 16 years, as it was in the Juveniles Justice Act  of

1986, was also raised in the Lok Sabha  on  19th  March,  2013,  during  the

discussion on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, but was  rejected  by

the House.

 

  1. The learned ASG submitted that the occurrence of 16th  December,  2012,

involving the alleged gang rape of  a  23  year  old  girl,  should  not  be

allowed to colour the decision taken to treat all persons below the  age  of

18 years, as children.

 

  1. Mr. Anant Asthana, learned Advocate appearing  for HAQ  :  Centre  for

Child Rights, submitted that the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection  of

Children) Act, 2000, as amended in 2006 and 2011, is  a  fairly  progressive

legislation, largely compliant  with  the  Constitution  of  India  and  the

minimum standards contained in the Beijing  Rules.   Mr.  Asthana  contended

that the reason for incidents such as the  16th  December,  2012,  incident,

was not on account of the provisions of the aforesaid Act,  but  on  account

of failure of the administration in implementing  its  provisions.   Learned

counsel submitted that all the Writ Petitions appeared to be  based  on  two

assumptions, namely, (i) that the age of  18  years  for  juveniles  is  set

arbitrarily; and (ii) that by reducing the age for the purpose  of  defining

a child in the aforesaid Act, criminality  amongst  children  would  reduce.

Mr. Asthana submitted that such an  approach  was  flawed  as  it  had  been

incorrectly submitted that the age of 18 years to treat persons as  children

was set arbitrarily and that it is so difficult  to  comprehend  the  causes

and the environment which brings  children  into  delinquency.  Mr.  Asthana

submitted that the answer lies in effective and  sincere  implementation  of

the different laws aimed at improving the conditions of children in need  of

care and protection and providing such protection to children at  risk.  Mr.

Asthana urged that the objective with which the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000, was enacted was not aimed  at  delivering

retributive justice, but to  allow  a  rehabilitative,  reformation-oriented

approach in addressing juvenile crimes. Learned counsel submitted  that  the

apathy of the administration towards juveniles and the manner in which  they

are treated would be evident from the fact that by  falsifying  the  age  of

juveniles, they were treated as adults and sent to jails, instead  of  being

produced before the  Juvenile  Justice  Board  or   even  before  the  Child

Welfare Committees to be dealt with in a manner  provided  by  the  Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, for  the  treatment  of

 

  1. Mr. Asthana submitted that even as recently  as  26th  April,  2013,

the Government of India has adopted a  new  National  Policy  for  Children,

which not only recognises that a child  is  any  person  below  the  age  of

eighteen years, but also states that the policy  was  to  guide  and  inform

people of laws, policies, plans  and  programmes  affecting  children.   Mr.

Asthana urged that all actions and initiatives of the  national,  State  and

local Governments in all sectors must respect and uphold the principles  and

provisions of this policy and it would neither be appropriate  nor  possible

for the Union of India to adopt a different  approach  in  the  matter.  Mr.

Asthana, who  appears  to  have  made  an  in-depth  study  of  the  matter,

submitted that on the question of making  the  provisions  in  the  Juvenile

Justice (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000,  conform  to  the

provisions of the Constitution and to allow the children of a  specific  age

group to be treated as adults, it would  be  appropriate  to  take  note  of

General Comment No.10 made by the U.N. Committee on the rights of the  child

on 25th April, 2007, which specifically dealt with the upper age  limit  for

juveniles and it was reiterated that where it was a case of  a  child  being

in need of care and protection or in conflict with law, every  person  under

the age of 18 years at the time of commission of the  alleged  offence  must

be treated in accordance with  the  Juvenile  Justice  Rules.   Mr.  Asthana

submitted that any attempt to alter the upper limit of the age  of  a  child

from 18 to 16 years would have disastrous consequences and  would  set  back

the  attempts  made  over  the  years  to  formulate   a   restorative   and

rehabilitative approach  mainly for juveniles in conflict with law.

 

  1. In Writ Petition (Civil) No.85 of  2013,  a  counter  affidavit  has

been filed on behalf  of  the  Ministry  of  Women  and  Child  Development,

Government of  India,  in  which  the  submissions  made  by  the  ASG,  Mr.

Siddharth  Luthra,  were  duly  reflected.   In  paragraph  I  of  the  said

affidavit, it has been pointed out  that  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000, provides for a wide range of  reformative

measures under Sections 15 and 16 for children in conflict with law  –  from

simple warning to 3 years of institutionalisation in  a  Special  Home.   In

exceptional cases, provision has also been made for the juvenile to be  sent

to a place of  safety  where  intensive  rehabilitation  measures,  such  as

counselling, psychiatric evaluation and treatment would be undertaken.

 

  1. In Writ Petition (C) No.10 of 2013 filed  by  Shri  Salil  Bali,  an

application had been made  by  the  Prayas  Juvenile  Aid  Centre  (JAC),  a

Society whose Founder and General Secretary, Shri Amod  Kanth,  was  allowed

to appear and address the Court in person.  Mr. Amod Kanth claimed  that  he

was a former member of the Indian Police  Service  and  Chairperson  of  the

Delhi Commission for the  Protection  of  Child  Rights  and  was  also  the

founder General Secretary of the aforesaid  organisation,  which  came  into

existence in 1998 as a special unit  associated  with  the  Missing  Persons

Squad of the Crime and Railway Branch of the  Delhi  Police  of  which  Shri

Amod Kanth was the in-charge Deputy Commissioner of Police.  Mr. Amod  Kanth

submitted that Prayas was created in  order  to  identify  and  support  the

missing and found  persons,  including  girls,  street  migrants,  homeless,

working and delinquent children who  did  not  have  any  support  from  any

organisation in the  Government  or  in  the  non-governmental  organisation

 

  1. Mr. Kanth repeated  and  reiterated  the  submissions  made  by  the

learned ASG and Mr. Asthana and  also  highlighted  the  problems  faced  by

children both in conflict with law and in need of care and protection.   Mr.

Kanth  submitted  that  whatever  was  required   to   be   done   for   the

rehabilitation and restoration of juveniles to a normal existence has, to  a

large extent, been defeated since the various  provisions  of  the  Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the Rules  of  2007,

were not being seriously  implemented.   Mr.  Kanth  urged  that  after  the

ratification by India of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of  the

Child on 11th December, 1992, serious thought was given to the enactment  of

the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection  of  Children  Act),  2000,  which

came to replace the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986.  Taking a leaf  out  of  Mr.

Asthana’s book, Mr. Kanth submitted that even after thirteen  years  of  its

existence, the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection  of

Children) Act, 2000, still remained  unimplemented  in  major  areas,  which

made  it  impossible  for  the  provisions  of  the  Act  to   be   properly

  1. Mr. Kanth submitted that one of the  more  important  features

of  juvenile  law  was  to  provide  a  child-friendly   approach   in   the

adjudication and disposition of matters in the  best  interest  of  children

and  for  their  ultimate  rehabilitation   through   various   institutions

established under the Act.  Submitting that the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000,  was  based  on  the  provisions  of  the

Indian Constitution, the United Nations Convention  on  the  Rights  of  the

Child, 1989, the  Beijing  Rules  and  the  United  Nations  Rules  for  the

Protection of the Juveniles Deprived  of  their  Liberty,  1990,  Mr.  Kanth

urged that the same was in  perfect  harmony  with  the  provisions  of  the

Constitution, but did not receive the attention it ought  to  have  received

while dealing with a section of the citizens of India comprising 42% of  the

country’s population.

 

  1. Various measures to deal with juveniles in conflict  with  law  have

been suggested by Mr. Kanth, which requires serious  thought  and  avoidance

of knee-jerk reactions to situations which could set a dangerous  trend  and

affect millions of children in need  of  care  and  protection.   Mr.  Kanth

submitted that any change in the law, as it now  stands,  resulting  in  the

reduction  of  age  to  define  a  juvenile,  will  not  only  prove  to  be

regressive, but would also adversely affect India’s image as a  champion  of

human rights.

 

  1. Having regard to the serious nature of the issues raised before  us,

we have given serious thought to the submissions advanced on behalf  of  the

respective parties and  also  those  advanced  on  behalf  of  certain  Non-

Government Organizations and have  also  considered  the  relevant  extracts

from the Report of Justice  J.S.  Verma  Committee  on  “Amendments  to  the

Criminal Law”  and  are  convinced  that  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as amended  in  2006,  and  the  Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007, are  based  on  sound

principles recognized internationally and contained  in  the  provisions  of

the Indian Constitution.

 

  1. There is little doubt that  the  incident,  which  occurred  on  the

night of 16th December, 2012, was not only gruesome, but almost maniacal  in

its content, wherein one juvenile, whose role is yet to be established,  was

involved, but such an incident, in comparison to the vast number  of  crimes

occurring in India, makes it an aberration rather than the  Rule.   If  what

has come out from the reports of the Crimes Record  Bureau,  is  true,  then

the number of crimes committed  by  juveniles  comes  to  about  2%  of  the

country’s crime rate.

 

  1. The learned ASG along with  Mr.  Asthana  and  Mr.  Kanth,  took  us

through the history of the enactment  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of  Children)  Act,  2000,  and  the  Rules  subsequently  framed

thereunder in 2007.  There is a definite thought process,  which  went  into

the enactment of the aforesaid Act.  In order to appreciate the  submissions

made on behalf of the respective parties in regard to the enactment  of  the

aforesaid  Act  and  the  Rules,  it  may  be  appropriate  to  explore  the

background of the laws relating to child protection  in  India  and  in  the

rest of the world.

 

  1. It  cannot  be  questioned  that  children  are  amongst  the  most

vulnerable sections in any society.  They represent almost one-third of  the

world’s population, and unless they are provided with proper  opportunities,

the opportunity of making them grow into responsible  citizens  of  tomorrow

will slip out  of  the  hands  of  the  present  generation.   International

community has been alive  to  the  problem  for  a  long  time.   After  the

aftermath of the First World War, the League of Nations  issued  the  Geneva

Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1924.  Following the  gross  abuse

and violence of human rights during the Second World War, which  caused  the

death of millions of people, including  children,  the  United  Nations  had

been formed in 1945 and on 10th December, 1948 adopted  and  proclaimed  the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   While  Articles  1  and  7  of  the

Declaration proclaimed that all human beings are  born  free  and  equal  in

dignity and rights  and  are  equal  before  the  law,  Article  25  of  the

Declaration specifically provides that motherhood  and  childhood  would  be

entitled to special care and assistance.  The growing consciousness  of  the

world community was further evidenced by the Declaration of  the  Rights  of

the Child, which came to  be  proclaimed  by  the  United  Nations  on  20th

November, 1959, in the best interests of the child.  This  was  followed  by

the Beijing Rules of 1985, the Riyadh Guidelines of  1990,  which  specially

provided guidelines for the prevention  of  juvenile  delinquency,  and  the

Havana Rules of 14th December, 1990.  The said three sets of Rules  intended

that social policies should be  evolved  and  applied  to  prevent  juvenile

delinquency, to  establish  a  Juvenile  Justice  System  for  juveniles  in

conflict with law, to safeguard fundamental rights and to establish  methods

for social re-integration of young people who had suffered incarceration  in

prison or other corrective institutions.  One of the other principles  which

was sought to be reiterated and adopted was that a juvenile should be  dealt

with for an offence in a manner which  is  different  from  an  adult.   The

Beijing Rules indicated that efforts should be made by member  countries  to

establish within their own national jurisdiction, a set of  laws  and  rules

specially applicable to juvenile offenders.  It was stated that the  age  of

criminal responsibility in legal systems that recognize the concept  of  the

age of criminal responsibility for juveniles should not be fixed at too  low

an age-level,  keeping  in  mind  the  emotional,  mental  and  intellectual

maturity of children.

 

  1. Four years after the adoption  of  the  Beijing  Rules,  the  United

Nations adopted  the  Convention  on  the  Rights  of  the  Child  vide  the

Resolution of the General Assembly No.  44/25  dated  20th  November,  1989,

which came into  force  on  2nd  September,  1990.   India  is  not  only  a

signatory to the said Convention, but has also ratified  the  same  on  11th

December, 1992.  The said Convention sowed the seeds  of  the  enactment  of

the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)  Act,  2000,  by  the

Indian Parliament.

 

  1. India developed its own jurisprudence relating to children  and  the

recognition of their rights.  With the adoption of the Constitution on  26th

November 1949, constitutional safeguards, as far as weaker sections  of  the

society, including  children,  were  provided  for.   The  Constitution  has

guaranteed several rights to children, such  as  equality  before  the  law,

free and compulsory primary education to children between the age  group  of

six to fourteen years, prohibition  of  trafficking  and  forced  labour  of

children and  prohibition  of  employment  of  children  below  the  age  of

fourteen  years  in  factories,  mines  or   hazardous   occupations.    The

Constitution enables the State Governments to make  special  provisions  for

  1. To prevent female foeticide,  the  Pre-conception  and  Pre-natal

Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex  Selection)  Act  was  enacted  in

  1. One of the latest enactments  by  Parliament  is  the  Protection  of

Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

 

  1. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)  Act,  2000,

is in  tune  with  the  provisions  of  the  Constitution  and  the  various

Declarations and Conventions adopted by the world community  represented  by

the United Nations.  The basis of fixing of  the  age  till  when  a  person

could be treated as a child at eighteen years in the Juvenile Justice  (Care

and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, was Article 1 of  the  Convention  of

the Rights of the Child, as was brought to our notice  during  the  hearing.

Of course, it has been submitted by  Dr.  Kishor  that  the  description  in

Article 1 of the Convention was a contradiction in terms.   While  generally

treating eighteen to be the age till which a person could be treated  to  be

a child, it also indicates that the same was variable  where  national  laws

recognize the age of majority earlier.  In this regard,  one  of  the  other

considerations which weighed with the  legislation  in  fixing  the  age  of

understanding at eighteen years is on account of the  scientific  data  that

indicates that the brain continues to develop and  the  growth  of  a  child

continues till he reaches at least the age of eighteen years and that it  is

at that point of time  that  he  can  be  held  fully  responsible  for  his

  1. Along with physical growth, mental growth  is  equally  important,

in assessing the maturity of a person below the age of eighteen  years.   In

this connection, reference may be made to the chart provided by  Mr.  Kanth,

wherein the various laws relating to children generally  recognize  eighteen

years to be the age for reckoning a person as a  juvenile/  child  including

criminal offences.

 

  1. In any event, in the absence of any proper data,  it  would  not  be

wise on our part to deviate from the  provisions  of  the  Juvenile  Justice

(Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which represent the  collective

wisdom of Parliament.  It may not be out of place to  mention  that  in  the

Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, male children above the  age  of  sixteen  years

were considered to be adults, whereas girl children were treated  as  adults

on attaining the age of eighteen years.  In the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children)  Act,  2000,  a  conscious  decision  was  taken  by

Parliament to raise the age of male juveniles/children to eighteen years.

 

  1. In recent years, there has been a spurt in  criminal  activities  by

adults, but not so by juveniles, as the materials produced before  us  show.

The age limit which was  raised  from  sixteen  to  eighteen  years  in  the

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, is a  decision

which was taken by the Government, which is strongly in favour of  retaining

Sections 2(k) and 2(l) in the manner in  which  it  exists  in  the  Statute

 

  1. One misunderstanding of  the  law  relating  to  the  sentencing  of

juveniles, needs to be corrected.  The general understanding of  a  sentence

that can be awarded to a juvenile under Section 15(1)(g)  of  the   Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, prior to its  amendment

in 2006, is that after attaining the age of eighteen years, a  juvenile  who

is found guilty of a  heinous  offence  is  allowed  to  go  free.   Section

15(1)(g), as it stood before  the  amendment  came  into  effect  from  22nd

August, 2006, reads as follows:

 

“15(1)(g)    make an order directing the juvenile to be sent  to

a special home for a period of three years:

 

 

(i) in case of juvenile, over  seventeen  years  but  less  than

eighteen years of age, for a period of not less than two years;

 

 

(ii) in case of any other  juvenile  for  the  period  until  he

ceases to be a juvenile:

 

 

Provided that the Board may, if it is satisfied that having

regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances of the

case, it is expedient so to do,  for  reasons  to  be  recorded,

reduce the period of stay to such period as it thinks fit.”

 

 

 

 

It was generally perceived that a juvenile was free to go,  even  if

he had committed a heinous crime, when he ceased to be a juvenile.

 

The said understanding needs to  be  clarified  on  account  of  the

amendment which came into force with effect  from  22.8.2006,  as  a  result

whereof Section 15(1)(g) now reads as follows:

 

“Make an order directing the juvenile to be sent  to  a  special

home for a period of three years:

 

 

Provided that the Board may if it is satisfied that  having

regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances of the

case, it is expedient so to  do,  for  reasons  to  be  recorded

reduce the period of stay to such period as it thinks fit.”

 

 

 

The aforesaid amendment now makes it clear that even if  a  juvenile

attains the age of eighteen years within a  period  of  one  year  he  would

still have to undergo a sentence of three years, which  could  spill  beyond

the period of one year when he attained majority.

 

  1. There is yet another consideration which  appears  to  have  weighed

with the worldwide community, including India, to  retain  eighteen  as  the

upper limit to which persons could be treated  as  children.   In  the  Bill

brought in Parliament for  enactment  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act of 2000, it has been  indicated  that  the  same

was being  introduced  to  provide  for  the  care,  protection,  treatment,

development and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles and  for

the  adjudication  of  certain  matters  relating  to  and  disposition   of

delinquent juveniles.   The  essence  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and

Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the Rules framed thereunder in  2007,

is restorative and not retributive, providing  for  rehabilitation  and  re-

integration of children in conflict with law into mainstream  society.   The

age of eighteen has been fixed on account of the  understanding  of  experts

in child psychology and behavioural patterns  that  till  such  an  age  the

children in conflict with law  could  still  be  redeemed  and  restored  to

mainstream society,  instead  of  becoming  hardened  criminals  in  future.

There are, of course, exceptions where a child in the age group  of  sixteen

to eighteen may have developed criminal propensities, which  would  make  it

virtually  impossible  for  him/her  to  be  re-integrated  into  mainstream

society, but such examples are not of such proportions  as  to  warrant  any

change in thinking, since it is probably  better  to  try  and  re-integrate

children with criminal propensities into mainstream society, rather than  to

allow them to develop into hardened criminals, which  does  not  augur  well

for the future.

 

  1. This being the understanding of the Government behind the  enactment

of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of  Children)  Act,  2000,  and

the amendments effected thereto in 2006,  together  with  the  Rules  framed

thereunder in 2007, and the data available with regard to the commission  of

heinous offences by children, within the meaning of Sections 2(k)  and  2(l)

of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000,  we  do

not think that any interference is necessary  with  the  provisions  of  the

Statute till such time as  sufficient  data  is  available  to  warrant  any

change in the provisions of the aforesaid Act and the Rules.  On  the  other

hand, the implementation of the various  enactments  relating  to  children,

would possibly yield better results.

 

  1. The  Writ  Petitions  and  the  Transferred  Case  are,  therefore,

dismissed, with the aforesaid observations.  There  shall,  however,  be  no

order as to costs.

 

 

 

…………………………………………………CJI.

(ALTAMAS KABIR)

 

 

 

 

………………………………………………………J.

(SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR)

 

 

 

 

………………………………………………………J.

(J. CHELAMESWAR)

 

 

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