Under national and international law, juveniles should be treated differently from adult criminals. As per the Juvenile Justice System Act (JJSA), 2018, a child is defined under section 2(b) as a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years. Section 2(h) defines a juvenile as a child who may be dealt with for an offense in a manner that is different from an adult. The Juvenile Justice System Act 2018 is a step towards realizing the child rights goal in Pakistan.
However, the Act has not amended the minimum age of criminal responsibility set by sections 82 and 83 of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 (PPC). Thus, these sections remain applicable with regard to determining the age of the accused under section 8 of JJSA, 2018. Section 82 states, ‘Nothing is an offence, which is done by a child under seven years of age.‘ Section 83 is associated with a discretion provided to the court in determining whether a juvenile above seven years and below twelve years had the level of maturity to understand the nature and consequences of their conduct. This paper aims to highlight and analyze the law on the determination of age and maturity under section 83, arguing that the use of section 83 is dubious and needs to be replaced by a higher minimum age of criminal responsibility.