If two views are there, the benefit of Juvenility cannot be given to Accused involved in grave and serious offence: SC [Read Judgment]

If two views are there, the benefit of Juvenility cannot be given to Accused involved in grave and serious offence: SC [Read Judgment]


When an accused commits a grave and heinous offence and thereafter attempts to take statutory shelter under the guise of being a minor, a casual or cavalier approach while recording as to whether an accused is a juvenile or not cannot be permitted as the courts are enjoined upon to perform their duties with the object of protecting the confidence of common man in the institution entrusted with the administration of justice, the Bench said.


In an important pronouncement, the Supreme Court has held that If two views are there regarding the age, the benefit of Juvenility cannot be given to Accused involved in grave and serious offence. Apex Court bench comprising of Justices A.K. Sikri and R. K. Agrawal in Parag Bhati vs. State of Uttar Pradesh observed that benefit of the principle of benevolent legislation attached to the Juvenile Justice Act would apply to only such cases wherein the accused is held to be a juvenile on the basis of at 24 least prima facie evidence regarding his minority

Medical Board doubting his plea of Juvenility of a person accused of murder, based on School certificates, referred it to Medical Board for age determination, which reported that he is not a juvenile and is 19 year old. Appeals and Revisions filed by him before higher courts were dismissed. Thereafter he approached the Apex Court.

MEDICAL OPINION CAN BE SOUGHT IN CASE COURT DOUBTS DOB IN SCHOOL CERTIFICATES

Rejecting the contention of the appellant that Board committed grave illegality in directing the ossification test, the bench said “it is clear that under Section 7A of the JJ Act, the court is enjoined to make an inquiry and take such evidence as may be necessary to determine the age of the person who claims to be a juvenile. However, under Rule 12, the Board is enjoined to take evidence by obtaining the matriculation certificate if available, and in its absence, the date of birth certificate from the school first attended and if it is also not available then the birth certificate given by the local body. In case any of the above certificates are not available then medical opinion can be resorted to. However, if the Board comes to the conclusion that the date of birth mentioned in the matriculation certificate raises some doubt on the basis of material or evidence on record, it can seek medical opinion from a duly constituted medical board to determine the age of the accused person claiming juvenility.”

JUVENILES ACCUSED OF GRAVE CRIMES CANNOT BE GIVEN BENEFIT OF POSSIBLITY OF TWO VIEWS

The Court also concurred with the contention of the State that the Board did not give the benefit of one year as provided in Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice Rules in favour of the appellant-accused on the ground that the complainant had filed the photocopy of Panchayat Electoral Roll, according to which, the age on 01.01.2009 has been mentioned as 19 years and the date of the incident is 29.06.2011. The Court further held as follows:

“It is no doubt true that if there is a clear and unambiguous case in favour of the juvenile accused that he was a minor below the age of 18 years on the date of the incident and the documentary evidence at least prima facie proves the same, he would be entitled to the special protection under the JJ Act. But when an accused commits a grave and heinous offence and thereafter attempts to take statutory shelter under the guise of being a minor, a casual or cavalier approach while recording as to whether an accused is a juvenile or not cannot be permitted as the courts are enjoined upon to perform their duties with the object of protecting the confidence of common man in the institution entrusted with the administration of justice. The benefit of the principle of benevolent legislation attached to the JJ Act would thus apply to only such cases wherein the accused is held to be a juvenile on the basis of at 24 least prima facie evidence regarding his minority as the benefit of the possibilities of two views in regard to the age of the alleged accused who is involved in grave and serious offence which he committed and gave effect to it in a well-planned manner reflecting his maturity of mind rather than innocence indicating that his plea of juvenility is more in the nature of a shield to dodge or dupe the arms of law, cannot be allowed to come to his rescue.

Read the Judgment here.