"The Registry is directed to send a copy of this order to the Director (Academics), Delhi Judicial Academy for designing a refresher course on juvenile justice and compiling the material for it. This design shall be sent to every District Judge, who if possible, would organise and implement the training at the District Court Complexes for expediency and to save the time of the judges", directed the Bench
The Delhi High Court in Chanderjeet Kumar @Kishan v. State dealt with a case where a juvenile was wrongfully incarcerated for duration beyond the maximum punishment prescribed for juvenile convicts under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015. [JJ Act]
The Judgment delivered by Justice Gita Mittal and Justice P S Teji took note of the callousness of the courts in dealing with the matter which had led to violation of Art. 21 guaranteed to the appellant (juvenile convict) Chanderjeet Kumar @ Kishan and he was also denied benefits available to juveniles under the JJ Act and the Juvenile Justice Rules [JJ Rules].
Being visibly vexed by the way in which the rights of Kishan were violated, the court suggested a re-visit to training in law relating to juveniles, procedural and substantive.
In this case, Kishan was arrested for a case under sections 302/384/506/34 of the IPC read with sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act for an offence committed on 8th January, 2007.
However, an application by the Delhi State Legal Authorities (DLSA) raising the claim of juvenility for Kishan and the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) initiated an age of inquiry on 25th June, 14 to ascertain whether Kishan was indeed a juvenile and could avail the benefits under the JJ Act, 2015 or not.
The CMM directed that the file made regarding the application along with the statement made by Ram Avtar, Kishan’s father, regarding his age be made available to the Sessions Court on 9th July, 2014, by the Investigating Officer. However, this direction of the CMM was not complied with. Thus, the important proceedings before the CMM, which critically impacted the Article 21 constitutional rights of the appellant unfortunately got buried in the record. Completely oblivious to the DLSA’s letter raising the claim of juvenility or the CMM’s inquiry into it, the court proceeded with the matter. The Court remanded the authorities saying: “This case reflects the callousness or the ignorance on the part of the police of the importance of the issue. Also of the fact, that rights of the child are completely non- negotiable. Even, if he/she may stand implicated for commission of a heinous crime. The SHO of the police station concerned, who having conducted the age inquiry, would have known about it. Yet, he also made no effort to inform the trial court about the same.”
On an earlier occasion Kishan had filed an application under Section 7A of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 before the Trial Court complaining that his claim of juvenility had been wrongly rejected on the following three grounds:
Kishan appealed against the above order the high court and, thus in this way, the single judge held that the sessions judge had committed an illegality and was not barred from entertaining the application under section 7A of the said Act. Thus, saying this he remanded the matter back to the sessions judge. But, the trial court convicted Kishan without complying with the orders of the single judge. Thus as a result, he continued to be incarcerated despite the requirement of Section 7A and the prohibition contained in the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2000.
During the trial, the application seeking compliance with the order of the CMM directing the age inquiry was kept pending by the sessions judge.
The HC said there was no question of being influenced by a prior decision, if there was any doubt regarding the convict being a juvenile. In case of a doubt, the HC said that the sessions judge had the option to either cause the record of the inquiry placed before the appellate court or have directed either the machinery of legal aid to do so. It also held that directions could have been issued to the investigating officer to place the same before the HC for appropriate orders and to ensure compliance. Instead of doing so, the learned sessions judge has closed the inquiry and denied the benefit of the mandatory beneficial provisions of the JJ Act to the appellant.
The court said: “We are informed that the appellant was arrested on 13th January, 2007, and has been incarcerated ever since. As on date, he has undergone over nine years of imprisonment. The appellant has undergone more than the maximum sentence permissible under the provisions of the JJ Act. In any case, the appellant could not have been kept in the jail meant for adult prisoners but was required to be kept in the observation home, that too only for the maximum period of three years. As such, the appellant cannot be detained in custody any longer.”
Thus, with this, Kishan was directed to be released forthwith and the benefits available under the provisions of the JJ Act be made available to him.
The court made the following order: “The Registry is directed to send a copy of this order to the Director (Academics), Delhi Judicial Academy for designing a refresher course on juvenile justice and compiling the material for it. This design shall be sent to every District Judge, who if possible, would organise and implement the training at the District Court Complexes for expediency and to save the time of the judges. The timing of implementation of the training may be staggered to ensure that the programme is undertaken urgently and by every member of the judicial service. If the court complex does not permit or on account of any other factor, organisation of the training is not possible, it shall be the responsibility of the Delhi Judicial Academy to expeditiously undertake the same.”
Read the Judgment here.
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