Juvenile Justice Board would be competent to decide on the controversy over whether the teenager accused in the Mercedes hit-and-run case should be tried as a major since he was just four days shy of his 18th birthday on the day of the accident, legal experts say.
“Since the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 has come into force on January 1, 2016, whether the accused teenager cab driver be tried as an adult should be decided by the JJB,” senior advocate K T S Tulsi told PTI.
Explaining the procedure, he said the Board will carry out a “preliminary assessment” as to whether the crime was of a heinous nature and also “whether the accused has the level of understanding and maturity to be tried as an adult”.
Tulsi, also a Rajya Sabha member, said the fact that the boy was just four days short of his 18th birthday would have a bearing on deciding his level of understanding, which develops through a “gradual process” and not suddenly when he attains adulthood.
On whether the previous conduct of the accused would have a bearing on how he should be tried, Tulsi said the accused should be found guilty and, that too of having committed a heinous offence, for it to be considered as a factor while determining how he should be tried.
Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, who was also of a similar view, also told PTI that once the matter is before the Board, it is an appropriate body to decide on the category of crime and accordingly put the accused on trial.
However, juvenile law expert advocate Anant Asthana attacked the media for “unnecessarily hyping” the issue as the accused was driving a Mercedes.
( PTI )