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Ossification Test Conducted On An Accused Aged Around 40-55 Years Cannot Be Conclusive To Declare Him As A Juvenile On The Date Of The Incident: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
27 Feb 2021 8:08 AM GMT
Ossification Test Conducted On An Accused Aged Around 40-55 Years Cannot Be Conclusive To Declare Him As A Juvenile On The Date Of The Incident: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that ossification test conducted on a person aged around 40 to 55 years cannot be conclusive to declare him as a juvenile on the date of the incident. "When a person is around 18 years of age, the ossification test can be said to be relevant for determining the approximate age of a person in conflict with law. However, when the person is around 40-55 years of...

The Supreme Court observed that ossification test conducted on a person aged around 40 to 55 years cannot be conclusive to declare him as a juvenile on the date of the incident. 

"When a person is around 18 years of age, the ossification test can be said to be relevant for determining the approximate age of a person in conflict with law. However, when the person is around 40-55 years of age, the structure of bones cannot be helpful in determining the age.", the bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Hemant Gupta and BR Gavai observed.

In this case, the accused-appellant relied on an ossification test report to contend that he was juvenile at the date of incident (20.7.1982).  It was contended that,  even considering the maximum age as 55 years as per the Medical Report now submitted, the accused would still be less than 18 years on the date of incident. 

While considering this contention, the bench observed that the plea of juvenility can be raised at any stage even after finality of the proceedings before the Supreme Court.  "The importance of ossification test has not undergone change with the enactment of Section 94 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The reliability of the ossification test remains vulnerable as was under Rule 12 of the Rules.", the bench noted.

"As per the Scheme of the Act, when it is obvious to the Committee or the Board, based on the appearance of the person, that the said person is a child, the Board or Committee shall record observations stating the age of the Child as nearly as may be without waiting for further confirmation of the age. Therefore, the first attempt to determine the age is by assessing the physical appearance of the person when brought before the Board or the Committee. It is only in case of doubt, the process of age determination by seeking evidence becomes necessary. At that stage, when a person is around 18 years of age, the ossification test can be said to be relevant for determining the approximate age of a person in conflict with law. However, when the person is around 40-55 years of age, the structure of bones cannot be helpful in determining the age", the court said.

Referring to the Latin maxim, lex non cogit ad impossibilia [law does not demand the impossible], the bench further observed:

"when the ossification test cannot yield trustworthy and reliable results, such test cannot be made a basis to determine the age of the person concerned on the date of incident. Therefore, in the absence of any reliable trustworthy medical evidence to find out age of the appellant, the ossification test conducted in year 2020 when the appellant was 55 years of age cannot be conclusive to declare him as a juvenile on the date of the incident."

The court took note of an application submitted by the accused himself for obtaining an Arms Licence prior to the date of the incident, in which he had given his date of birth as 30.12.1961 which would make him of 21 years of age on the date of the incident i.e. 20.7.1982.  "Since there is a document signed by the appellant much before the date of occurrence, therefore, we are of the opinion that the appellant 7 (2020) 7 SCC 1 cannot be treated to be juvenile on the date of incident as he was more than 21 years of age as per his application submitted to obtain the Arms Licence", the bench said.

The court also considered the case on merits and upheld the conviction of the accused.

Case: Ram Vijay Singh Vs. State Of Uttar Pradesh [Cr. A 175 OF 2021]
Coram: Justices RF Nariman, Hemant Gupta and BR Gavai
Counsel: Sr. Adv Gopal Sankaranarayanan
Citation: LL 2021 SC 117


Click here to Read/Download Judgment



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