The Supreme Court of India is a rather difficult place to get into. You need either a Proximity Card or a Photo Entry Pass - the former has a long application process and litigants have to take the latter. Getting that photo entry pass is a cumbersome process. The reasons behind making it so cumbersome have mostly been mooted as being security concerns, but their implementation results in creating serious issues of access for the poor among others. This inaccessibility of the Supreme Court is something I have criticised this at length at an earlier point in time here.
Today, on a rare visit to the Court I saw that the person in front of me waiting at the pass counter was denied one. This was because he was less than 18 years old. Now to me, it made no sense - I get one would not want toddlers roaming inside a courtroom, but why place the bar at 18? In a hurry for my matter I let it pass, but after getting free I decided to make certain inquiries. I asked the person seated inside the PR Office whether a person below 18 years could get a pass. He barely looked above his phone to politely tell me that such persons could not get a pass. I said I knew a litigant who had filed a PIL and sought entry. Astonishingly, I was told that I would need a Court order (presumably from where the PIL is filed) to state that the litigant's presence was needed and thus his entry must be allowed.
Now lets think about the implications of this policy, if indeed what I am told is actually correct:
1. You have to spend additional money to get an appearance before the Supreme Court and make a request for allowing your entry - even though you are the litigant.
2. There is some very important difference between an 18 year old and a 17 year old that is known only to those handling administrative affairs at the Supreme Court, which makes them shunt 17 year olds out. I honestly doubt it is something to do with the intellect of these persons.
3. Entering the Supreme Court is as important and responsibility-bearing as (inter alia) voting, driving, drinking (in some states), smoking, having sexual relations, marrying, watching adult films, being held criminally accountable for your acts.
Perhaps the Supreme Court denies entry to children (I am unaware of this) and since the Juvenile Justice Act defines anyone between 0-18 as children the administrative authorities are merely putting this law into effect. Bravo, if correct! As I have earlier remarked, it is lamentable that seemingly irrational policies are executed merely a stone's throw away from the halls of our highest judicial forum. By accepting them without demurring, we are equally culpable as those with the robes.