The petition has prayed for striking down the amendment as unconstitutional, to the extent it makes offences against children under the Act, which are punishable with imprisonment for a term of three years and above but not more than seven years, as non-cognizable.
The plea pointed out that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was passed to consolidate and amend the law relating to children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
But in August 2021, the Act was amended and 29 amendments were carried out by way of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021.
The plea filed through advocate Prateek K Chadha has taken exception to Section 26 of the Amendment Act which amends Section 86 of the 2015 Act.
The said amending provision categorizes certain serious offences i.e. offences with imprisonment for a term of three years and above, but not more than seven years as non-cognizable.
Such offences include sale and procurement of children, exploitation of child employee, employment of children for child begging, giving intoxicating liquor or narcotic drug to a child etc.
The plea said that one of the key features of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 was that for the first time the law categorically recognized certain new offences committed against children, which were so far not adequately covered under any other law.
Some of such offences included sale and procurement of children for any purpose including illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child care institutions, use of child by militant groups, offences against disabled children and, kidnapping and abduction of children.
However, the amendment Act makes many such offences non-cognisable, it has been contended.
The amended law denudes the police of its powers to investigate and arrest the offenders and placing an undue, unfair and unjustifiable burden on minor victims to come forward and report the commission of a serious offence, the plea said.
“The different classification of offences under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and the CrPC does not satisfy the requirements of equality before law and equal protection of laws under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India and hurts the cause of children. Further, the Section is arbitrary both substantively and procedurally as it violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India,” the petition further stated.