15 July 2019


Judgments

High Court of Delhi

Chanchal v. State

MANU/DE/1451/2017

24.05.2017

Criminal

Plea of juvenility could be taken up by an accused at any stage of proceedings, even after disposal of case from Supreme Court

Appellant was convicted under Sections 392 and 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and was sentenced to undergo RI for seven years, fine of Rs. 5000/- and in default of payment of fine to undergo further RI for six months. Appeal was admitted and Trial Court records were called for. Along with appeal, Appellant had also filed an application seeking suspension of sentence and another application seeking his release from custody on ground that, on date of occurrence i.e. 13.05.2013, Appellant was below 18 years of age. In support of aforesaid contention, a school leaving certificate issued by Directorate of Education, Government of NCT of Delhi was brought on record. Aforesaid document at Annexure A to application discloses that, he was 17 years, 9 months and 22 days at time of commission of offence. By order dated 28th April, 2016, Appellant was directed to furnish further information in terms of directions given by this Court in Criminal Appeal No. 1008/2011 (Mohd. Wasim v/s. State).

Information furnished by Appellant, on verification by police was found to be correct and status report reveals that, as per record available, date of birth of Appellant is 14th July, 1995, incident took place on 13th May, 2013 and as such real age of Appellant/applicant at time of incident was less than 18 years (17 years, 9 months and 22 days).

Section 7A of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 provides that, whenever a claim of juvenility is raised before any Court or a Court is of opinion that, an accused person was a juvenile on date of commission of offence, Court shall make an inquiry, take such evidence as may be necessary (but not an affidavit) so as to determine age of such person, and shall record a finding whether person is a juvenile or a child or not, stating his age as nearly as may be: provided that a claim of juvenility may be raised before any Court and it shall be recognized at any stage, even after final disposal of case, and such claim shall be determined in terms of provisions contained in this Act and the rules made thereunder, even if juvenile has ceased to be so on or before the date of commencement of this Act.

In view of law laid down that, plea of juvenility could be taken up by an accused at any stage of proceedings, even after disposal of case from Supreme Court, it leaves no option for this Court but to consider release of the petitioner from jail. Nominal roll indicates that, Appellant has already served more than four years in custody and as a juvenile, he could only have been sentenced for three years.

Clause 2 of Section 7A of Act provides that, if Court finds a person to be juvenile, on date of commission of offence, it shall forward juvenile to Juvenile Justice Board for passing appropriate orders and sentence if any, passed by a Court, shall be deemed to have no effect. Import of this provision is that, sentence awarded will have no effect and matter ought to be referred to Juvenile Justice Board for passing appropriate orders.

High Court considered desirability of sending Accused Appellant/applicant to Juvenile Justice Board so that necessary and sequel orders could have been passed. However, taking note of provisions in Section 15 of Act, that maximum period for which a juvenile can be sent to special home is 3 years, there does not appear to be any requirement of delaying release of Petitioner as he has already remained in jail for more than 4 years. Thus without disturbing conviction of Appellant, he is directed to be released forthwith from custody, if not required in any other case. Appeal and applications are disposed of.

Tags : Juvenility Plea custody Release

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