Supreme Court Frees Rape Accused Finding That He Was Juvenile At The Time Of Incident

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The Supreme Court in the appeal filed against the decision of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, in the case of Raju v. State of Haryana, acquitted a rape accused after it was found that he was a juvenile at the time of the incident. The appeal is directed against the final judgement and order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in the Criminal Appeal no 1830- SB of 2003 by which High Court dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant challenging the judgement of conviction under section 376(2) (g) of Indian Penal code by the Additional Session Judge.

Facts Of The Case

The brief facts leading to the instant appeal are that an FIR was lodged against Raju and two other people for engaged in the rape of prosecutrix, who was aged fifteen years at the time of the incident. The three accused were convicted for the offence punishable under Section 376(2) (g) of Indian Penal Code and sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 500 and further two months imprisonment in default of the payment of fine. Aggrieved by the decision of the trial court, the accused filed appeal in Honourable High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The Punjab and Haryana High Court, however, rejected the contention and affirmed the conviction of the three accused including the appellant (Raju). Aggrieved by the Judgement and order of Punjab and Haryana High court, the appellant filed an appeal before the Honourable Supreme court of India raising the plea for the juvenility again.

Judgement

In his appeal before the Supreme Court, he produced some Certificates issued by schools, to claim that he was a juvenile. In the enquiry conducted by Registrar (Judicial) as per direction issued by the Court, it was found that his age was 16 years, 2 months and 2 days at the time of commission of the offence and that he was thus a juvenile at that time. The Court observed that “We do not have any doubt that the inquiry conducted by the Registrar (Judicial) upon the direction of this Court in the instant matter amounts to an inquiry conducted by this Court itself, and is conclusive proof of the age of the Appellant as provided in Rule 12(3) of the 2007 Rules. As the Appellant satisfies the requirement of Sections 2(k) and 2(l) of the 2000 Act, the said Act is applicable to him in full force in light of Section 7A and Section 20.”

Conclusion

The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, and Justice Indira Banerjee ordered his release, considering the fact that he already spent 6 years in jail. The maximum period for which a juvenile may be sent to a special home is only 3 years as per Section 15(1) (g) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

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