5 July 2021 3:57 PM GMT
The Rajasthan High Court (Jodhpur Bench) has ruled that it is not obligated to provide the complainant with an opportunity of hearing while adjudicating upon a bail application of a juvenile accused under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.Justice Sandeep Mehta observed that a holistic reading of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act indicate that the legislation does not direct the Courts...
The Rajasthan High Court (Jodhpur Bench) has ruled that it is not obligated to provide the complainant with an opportunity of hearing while adjudicating upon a bail application of a juvenile accused under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
Justice Sandeep Mehta observed that a holistic reading of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act indicate that the legislation does not direct the Courts to hear the complainant either at the trial stage, the appellate stage, or the revision stage, while adjudicating upon an application for bail of a juvenile accused who falls within the definition of a "child alleged to be in conflict with law" (CICL).
"After analyzing the entire scheme of the Juvenile Justice Act, I am of the firm view that the concept of hearing the complainant in an application for bail of a CICL under the Juvenile Justice Act be it before the Board, the appellate court or the revisional court is totally foreign to the fundamental principles underlying the welfare legislation. The legislative intent does not give any such indication, which may require notifying the complainant before proceeding to consider the prayer for bail of a CICL at any of these three stages", the order read.
In the instant case, the Court was hearing a revision petition seeking bail for a young boy of less than 16 years. He had been lodged in the Child Observation Home, Dungarpur for the alleged commission of offences under Sections 341 and 395 of the IPC. His bail application had been rejected before by the Principal Magistrate of the Juvenile Justice Board, Dungarpur as well as by the Special Judge, Children Court (Sessions Judge and Children Human Protection Act), Dungarpur.
The Public Prosecutor had raised a preliminary objection that the plea cannot be heard without giving notice to the complainant.
Observations of the Court:
The Court noted that a practice has emerged at the High Court of impleading complainants/victims as party respondents in the revisions under Section 102 of the JJ Act by virtue of a proviso to the provision which states that the Court shall not pass any order under the section, prejudicial to any person without giving him a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
Deterring such a practice, Justice Mehta observed that bail to an accused is an extension of the fundamental right of liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As a result, an order for bail cannot be deemed to cause prejudice to the complainant and hence would not fall within the ambit of Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice Act which advocates for providing the complainant with an opportunity of hearing.
"It seems that without any basis, a practice has been adopted of impleading the complainant as a party in a revision for bail of a juvenile under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice act," the Judge remarked.
Furthermore, the Court noted that if at all it was the intention of the legislature to provide a hearing to the complainant, specific provisions to this effect would have been promulgated in Sections 12, 101 and 102 of the Juvenile Justice Act similar to the provisions enshrined in the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Objecting to the recurrent practice of prioritising bail applications of adult accused persons over juveniles due to the misconstrued application of Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice Act, the Court remarked,
"It seems that without any basis, a practice has been adopted of impleading the complainant as a party in a revision for bail of a juvenile under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice act. Numerous instances have come before the court, wherein, in cases involving multiple accused, of which few are adults and one is juvenile, the bail applications of the adult offenders are decided much earlier, whereas the juvenile continues to languish in the Observation Home, awaiting service of notice on the complainant. This anomalous situation is absolutely unwarranted and has to be resolved by taking a pragmatic, legal and logical view of the situation."
Accordingly, the Court granted bail to the juvenile accused on the condition that his natural guardian would furnish a personal bond and sign an undertaking that imposes upon him the obligation to ensure that the juvenile accused is kept in a protective environment away from the influence of habitual offenders.
Case Title: Lokesh v. State
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