The Punjab and Haryana High Court has reiterated that the bail application of a Juvenile under Section 12 of the JJ Act must be decided after taking into account the Social Investigation Report of the child in question.
"A coordinate Bench of this Court in Vishvas's case (supra) has held that application under Section 12 of the Act cannot be decided without taking into consideration of the Social Investigation Report of a juvenile," a Single Bench of Justice Suvir Sehgal observed.
In the said case, a Bench of Justice Jaishree Thakur had directed that the decision for grant or rejection of bail shall be founded on the basis of Social Investigation Report submitted by the Probation Officer and any other material available before the Board and not merely on the basis of records of the case and report filed under Section 173 Cr.P.C. of the investigation officer.
In the instant case, the Court was dealing with criminal application for setting aside of an order passed by the JJ Board, rejecting the Petitioner-child's bail application and order of the Additional Sessions Judge, Rohtak whereby appeal filed against the said order has been dismissed.
The Petitioner, said to be less than 16 years at the time of alleged commission of offence, was booked for murder of the complainant's son. During the investigation, he had admitted his involvement in the alleged commission of offence.
At the outset, the Single Bench observed that orders for rejection of bail and dismissal of appeal against challenge to such rejection were passed before the judgment in Vishva's case was pronounced.
It stated that normally, the matter should be remanded for fresh decision in the light of the said judgment. However, it proceeded to examine the case itself keeping in mind the objective of the JJ Act, i.e., to adopt a child friendly approach and not follow the rigours of the justice delivery system as available for adults.
The Bench then proceeded to peruse the Social Investigation Report of the Petitioner and found him to be a normal child, who appeared to have committed the offence under peer group influence.
"It has been recorded in the report that his relations with his family members, friends, teachers and classmates are cordial. As per the report, the petitioner, who is a matriculate, comes across as a normal child.
It has been further noticed that the petitioner is neither a member of any gang nor involved in drug peddling nor does he have any criminal past. The reason for the alleged offence has been given as "peer group influence" and the petitioner appears to be physically fit and mentally sound as reported by his family.
The result of the report which has been submitted by the Legal-cum-Probation Officer, District Child Protection Unit, Rohtak, deserves to be noticed," the order stated.
The Bench further reiterated that under Section 12 of the JJ Act, grant of bail to a child in conflict with law is a rule and rejection of the same is an exception.
"During the course of arguments, the respondents could neither show nor refer to any material to explain as to how, in case the petitioner is enlarged on bail, would he be exposed to moral, physical or psychological danger or would come in contact of known criminals."
"in case a juvenile is found guilty and convicted, the maximum period that he can be ordered to spend in a Special Home under Section 18 (1) (f) of the Act is three years. The petitioner has spent more than one year in incarceration, therefore, no purpose would be served in detaining the petitioner any further."
Case Title: Vishnu v. State of Haryana