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Juvenile Justice: Judgment Passed By Single Member Of The Juvenile Justice Board Is Void Ab Initio, Holds Himachal Pradesh HC [Read Judgment]

Shayesta Nazir
2 Jun 2019 4:32 AM GMT
Juvenile Justice: Judgment Passed By Single Member Of The Juvenile Justice Board Is Void Ab Initio, Holds Himachal Pradesh HC [Read Judgment]
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High Court of Himachal Pradesh held in State of Himachal Pradesh v. Happy that judgment passed by a single member of the Juvenile Justice Board is void ab initio as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. It said that the Principal Magistrate could not have finally disposed of the case in contravention of the provisions of the Juvenile...

High Court of Himachal Pradesh held in State of Himachal Pradesh v. Happy that judgment passed by a single member of the Juvenile Justice Board is void ab initio as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.

It said that the Principal Magistrate could not have finally disposed of the case in contravention of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and, therefore, the order passed by it is coram non judis and being nullity is void ab initio.

Court said that it is well settled and needs no authority that "where a Court takes upon itself to exercise a jurisdiction it has not possessed its decision amounts to nothing". Consequently, any order passed by the Court having no jurisdiction is non est and its invalidity can be set up when it is sought to be enforced or is acted upon as a foundation for a right, even at the stage of execution or in collateral proceedings. Any order passed by such authority is coram non judis, court observed.

Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan was hearing a criminal revision petition wherein state of Himachal Pradesh had assailed the judgment of acquittal passed by the Principal Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Bilaspur, H.P., whereby she had acquitted the juvenile under Sections 20 & 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act).

While the judgment was assailed on merits, the moot question before the court was whether the Principal Magistrate while sitting singly could have finally decided/disposed of the case.

Court considering the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 & 2015 answered in negative. Court said that it is abundantly clear that under the Acts, the cases of "juvenile in conflict with law" and "child in conflict with law", as the case may be, can be disposed of finally only by at least two members including the Principal Magistrate present at the time of disposal of such case. No individual Member including the Principal Magistrate and no two Members excluding the Principal Magistrate can finally dispose of the case.

Court placed reliance on the decision of the Supreme Court in Hasham Abbas Sayyad vs. Usman Abbas Sayyad and others, AIR 2007 (SC) 1077, wherein it was held that "the core question is as to whether an order passed by a person lacking inherent jurisdiction would be a nullity. It will be so. The principles of estoppel, waiver and acquiescence or even res judicata which are procedural in nature would have no application in a case where an order has been passed by the Tribunal/Court which has no authority in that behalf. Any order passed by a court without jurisdiction would be coram non judice being a nullity, the same ordinarily should not be given effect to."

Court allowing the criminal revision quashed and set aside the impugned judgment and remanded the case to Juvenile Justice Board, Bilaspur, to be decided afresh in accordance with law after hearing both the parties. Court directed for speedy disposal of the case latest by 30th September, 2019.

Petitioner was represented by Vinod Thakur and Sudhir Bhatnagar, Additional Advocate Generals with Bhupinder Thakur, Deputy Advocate General and Ram Lal Thakur, Assistant Advocate General and the respondent by advocate Balbir Singh Ranta.

Click here to download the Judgment 


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