The Rajasthan High Court recently held that Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) Model Rules, 2016 can be utilized to determine the age of a child irrespective of the date of occurrence of the offence.
"...the Model Rules of 2016 which have come into force from 21.9.2016 shall be applicable while determining the age of juvenile irrespective of the date of occurrence of offences," Justice Deepak Maheshwari ruled.
The Court was hearing a Revision petition challenging an order passed by the lower Court ruling that the Appellant was not a juvenile under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. He had submitted that the lower Court had relied on his school's register, and had ignored the school mark sheets submitted by him for establishing his correct age.
Agreeing with his contentions, the Court observed, "It is thus evident that birth certificate from the school and matriculation certificate or its equivalent certificate is also required to be taken into consideration while determining the age. But on perusal of the order impugned, no reference to matriculation certificate is found. Counsel has stated that matriculation certificate produced before the court below has not been taken into consideration. Further, statement of father of petitioner Prahlad Singh also does not find place in the order impugned. The evidence adduced during enquiry regarding the age, including the statement of witnesses ought to have been discussed."
It further relied on a decision by the coordinate bench of the Court in Surendra Kumar v. State of Rajasthan 2009 Cr.L.J.568, wherein it was held that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 would apply to all cases where the claim of juvenility had been pending on the date of its enactment. Justice Maheshwari then held that the Model Rules of 2016 would also apply irrespective of the date of occurrence of the offences.
The Court, therefore, ruled that the Petitioner's age had been assessed in contravention of the provisions of Section 94 of the Act, and without taking into consideration Model Rules of 2016. It thereafter allowed the Petition and quashed the impugned order, directing the lower Court to determine the Petitioner's age afresh in the light of its observations.