2 Dec 2021 2:51 PM GMT
The Supreme Court has observed that the claim of juvenility can be raised before any Court, at any stage, even after final disposal of the case.The bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Mahseshwari observed that if the Court finds a person to be a juvenile on the date of commission of the offence, it is to forward the juvenile to the Board for passing appropriate orders, and the sentence,...
The Supreme Court has observed that the claim of juvenility can be raised before any Court, at any stage, even after final disposal of the case.
The bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Mahseshwari observed that if the Court finds a person to be a juvenile on the date of commission of the offence, it is to forward the juvenile to the Board for passing appropriate orders, and the sentence, if any, passed by a Court, shall be deemed to have no effect.
"Even though the offence in this case may have been committed before the enactment of the Act of 2000, the petitioner is entitled to the benefit of juvenility under Section 7A of the Act of 2000, if on inquiry it is found that he was less than 18 years of age on the date of the alleged offence," Court further added.
The Additional Sessions Judge on July 29, 1999 had convicted the petitioner u/s 302, IPC and had sentenced him to life imprisonment with regards to an incident which took place on July 26, 1997. In the cause title of the said judgment and order, the petitioner was as Ashok, S/o Balram Jatab age 16 yrs 9 months and 19 days, R/o Village Anjani Pura, District Bhind.
Aggrieved the petitioner had filed a Criminal Appeal challenging his conviction and sentence which was dismissed by the High Court dated November 14, 2017.
The petitioner claimed that the petitioner was born on January 5, 1981 and was therefore, approximately 16 years and 7 months old on the date of the incident.
Appearing for the State, the Additional Advocate General, argued that the claim of juvenility was raised for the first time in the special leave petition.
Supreme Court's Observations
"In this Court, the petitioner has for the first time contended that he was a juvenile on the date of the incident. His conviction and sentence are, therefore, liable to be set-aside. The claim of juvenility was not raised in the High Court," bench in its order said.
The bench opined that although it was true that petitioner's certificate was issued on July 17, 2021 but the certificate did not specifically mention that the date of birth January 1, 1982 had been entered at the time of first admission of the petitioner at the primary school level.
"Furthermore, there is a birth certificate issued by the Gram Panchayat, Endouri, District Bhind, Madhya Pradesh which indicates the date of birth of the petitioner as 05.01.1982 and not 01.01.1982 as recorded in the school certificate referred to above. The entry in the records of the Gram Panchayat, Endouri, District Bhind, Madhya Pradesh, also do not appear to be contemporaneous and the certificate has been issued in the year 2017," the Court further added.
Considering that the Trial Court had recorded the petitioner's age as 16 years and odd and had been in actual custody in excess of three years, which was the maximum for a juvenile, the bench granted interim bail to the petitioners on the terms and conditions to be imposed by the Sessions Court.
The court also directed the Sessions Court to examine the claim of the petitioner to juvenility in accordance with law, and submit a report to this Court within one month from the date of communication of this order.
"The concerned Sessions Court shall be entitled to examine the authenticity and genuineness of the documents sought to be relied upon by the petitioner, considering that the documents do not appear to be contemporaneous," Court added.
Case Title: Ashok v State of Madhya Pradesh| Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No(s). 643/2020
Citation : LL 2021 SC 703
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