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"Not A Child But A Neo-Adult': Delhi Court Grants Bail To 19 Year Old Murder Accused

Aaratrika Bhaumik
15 July 2021 12:37 PM GMT
Not A Child But A Neo-Adult: Delhi Court Grants Bail To 19 Year Old Murder Accused
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A Delhi court granted bail to a 19-year-old accused of murder charges by opining that the accused may be an adult in the eyes of law, however, his mental age might not be in consonance with the legislated age of maturity. Additional Sessions Judge Vishal Gogne of the Dwarka District Courts observed, "The applicant, 19 years in age, is not quite a child in the eye of the law but is...

A Delhi court granted bail to a 19-year-old accused of murder charges by opining that the accused may be an adult in the eyes of law, however, his mental age might not be in consonance with the legislated age of maturity.

Additional Sessions Judge Vishal Gogne of the Dwarka District Courts observed,

"The applicant, 19 years in age, is not quite a child in the eye of the law but is yet only a neo adult. This court would propose that if a child (between the age 16 to 18 years) can be treated as an adult for the purpose of trial in heinous offences, a child who has just about crossed the legislated age of adulthood i.e. 18 years and remains a young adult (19-20 years) can certainly be afforded the protection of his liberty akin to a child in conflict with law."

In the instant case, the applicant along with some other associates had allegedly attacked two other youths one of whom had eventually passed away. The counsel for the applicant had prayed for bail before the Court by highlighting the young age of the applicant and the absence of his name in the FIR filed. It was also submitted that the applicant had played "no direct role in the infliction of the fatal blows upon the deceased."

The counsel for the applicant had also pointed out to the Court that the applicant must be provided protection from the company of older inmates and hardened criminals in prison. It was submitted that a stint in jail would deny any possibility of a reformative approach towards the applicant.

Taking into consideration the submission of the applicant, the Court observed,

"While the juvenile justice dispensation did undergo a significant change in the post Nirbhaya aftermath so as to render children accused of heinous offences in the age group 16 to 18 years also liable to be tried as adults in appropriate cases, the inconstancy of the law related to juveniles in India is not matched by any inconsistency in the principles governing bail. Multiple decisions of the Hon'ble Apex Court and High Courts have favored the release of young offenders on bail pending trial in order that the apparently regressive influences of the jail environment be avoided."

The Court also noted that many developmental psychologists would agree that often the capacity to take decisions as an adult or comprehend in entirety, the consequences of actions of a violent nature, may not be fully developed in a person who is just above the age of 18.

While advocating for reformative justice, the Court observed,

"Such young alleged offenders may therefore be released on bail not only honoring the principle of presumption of innocence but also in recognition of the principle of 'best interest' which may again be extrapolated to neo adults from the Juvenile Justice regime. If admitted to bail, the applicant, a student, may yet gainfully pursue his best interest till trial adjudicates upon his culpability."

Accordingly, the Court granted bail to the accused on the submission of a personal bond to the tune of Rs. 50,000/- each.

Case Title: State v. Nikhil Kumar 

Click Here To Read/Download Order 

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