The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights has moved the Supreme Court challenging the amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 by which some serious offences against children, which can carry imprisonment upto 7 years, have been made non-cognizable [Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights vs Union of India].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. .It was further contended that offences ought to be classified depending upon their nature and gravity and that the present categorisation is also contrary to the general scheme of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) wherein offences punishable with imprisonment for more than 3 years are categorised as cognizable whereas offences that are punishable with imprisonment for up to 3 years as non-cognizable."There is no reasonable justification or rational nexus sought to be achieved by reclassifying the cognizable offences as non-cognizable offences," the plea added.The modified law does not have any rational nexus with the objectives of the law which has been primarily enacted to protect children, to provide for their basic needs through proper care, protection, development, treatment and social re-integration."The amendment has the effect of treating offences committed against children as being less serious that similar offences when they are committed against major and proceed in accordance with the classification of offences under the Code of Criminal Procedure. This is clearly contrary to logic and there can not possibly be any rational explanation for the same. Its consequence is that the police can neither register the FIR nor can investigate or effect the arrest without the order of a judicial magistrate, thereby violating the fundamental right to life and liberty of the children being victim at the hands of the offender," the petition underlined.Such categorisation besides violating Articles 14 and 21 also runs contrary to international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to which India is a signatory, the plea claimed. .Notably, on April 8, 2022, five State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights representing the States and Union Territories of Chandigarh, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal had recommended to the Government of India that a Bill be tabled in the Parliament to further amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 in order to restore the cognizability status of the serious offences under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.However, no response has been received till date, it was stated.."Given the very nature of offences against children and the fact that statistically most offences against children are committed by family members, caregivers, known persons, the fact is that imposing such a requirement will just lead to a situation where the prosecution of such offences is drastically reduced and the provisions of the Act are not as effective as the were prior to the amendment," the petition stated.