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Bombay HC: Procedure for Claiming Juvenility Can Be Invoked at Any Stage Even After Final Disposal of Case

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The Court issued writ of Habeas Corpus under Article 226 of Constitution of India for directing Respondent to exonerate the Petitioner. It was prayed to the Court for issuing direction, order or writ for pending hearing and disposal of the Petition regarding the inquiry of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. Such Order is necessary for evaluation of the claim of validity of Juvenility of the Petitioner in the case of Arvindkumar Bhaiyalal Sahu v. State of Maharashtra. 

Brief Facts

The Petitioner was convicted for the offence punishable under section 302 of IPC and thereby underwent 10 years of imprisonment since 07.10.2009. The Petitioner was released  in 2017 on parole wherein material came across revealed petitioner age below 18 years at the time of the commission of the offence. Such proposition was verified on 21/11/2019, the Section Education Officer, Allahabad produced a copy of school register, transfer certificate of Late R.P.J.High School, family register and even school mark-sheet of 2005-2006, D.O.B is 7.7.1992 but the incident happened on 6.10.2009 shows that the Petitioner was 17 years of age.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The counsel pleaded before the Court that the Petitioner was a juvenile at the time of the commission of the crime and therefore must be treated as a juvenile in accordance with law under section 2(l) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. Consequently, he deserves to be released from custody since he was in jail from 07.10.2009.  The counsel also substantiated his argument with the assistance of a document to prove the claim of juvenility at the time of the incident.  

Court’s Observation

The Court took the reference of Amit Singh Vs. State of Maharashtra which invoked Section 7A of the Act defining the procedure which must be complied for claiming juvenility raised before any court of law at any stage even after final disposal of the case which was inserted by way of Amendment Act 33 of 2006.

In Addition of this provision, other provision of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007, (in short `the Rules’) Rule 98 r/w Section 20 of the Act as amended by the Amendment Act, 2006 furnish that even after final disposal of case juvenile in conflict, State Government or Board could review the case claiming for juvenility either suo motu or in application and thereby pass an order under Section 64 of the Act for release of juvenile whose imprisonment period exceeded maximum period i.e 3 years provided under Section 15 of the Act.

The Court took the reference of Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 for the procedure in determining the age of juvenile by Court or Board within 30 days from the date of application and decide juvenility prima facie on the basis of physical appearance or documents and send him to an observation home or in jail.

Court’s Decision 

The Court concluded the matter by referring it to Juvenile Justice Board, Mumbai for making enquiry in ascertaining the claim of juvenility of the petitioner in accordance with the law and produced the report within 14 weeks from the date of receipt. 

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