On Thursday, 12 November, the Meghalaya High Court observed that, The Court deems it fit and proper to call upon all the Juvenile Justice Boards in the State to strictly adhere to the statutory provision of Section 12 of the JJ Act, 2015 while considering the issue of grant or refusal of bail for a CCL and to approach any case where a juvenile is involved with care and sensitivity”.
While hearing a revision petition preferred under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015, challenging the order passed by the Principal Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Khliehriat in Khliehriat P.S Case No. 34(9) of 2020 under Section 376(1) IPC read with Section 3(j) (ii) 5, 6, of the POCSO Act, 2012, Justice W. Diengdoh made the aforesaid observation.
The bail application filed under Section 12 of the JJ Act on behalf of the Child in Conflict with Law (CCL) have been rejected by the Principal Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Khliehriat.
An intimation report on 27.08.2020 was received by the Jowai Police from Norman Tunnel Hospital, Jowai stating that on examination of the alleged victim (said to be16 years of age) was pregnant and on enquiry, it was told that she had a physical relationship with the CCL in said case.
After registration of case, the matter was forwarded to the learnedSpecial Judge, POCSO Court, Khliehriat.
On perusal of the birth certificate, the Special Judge (POCSO) on examination of the CCL came to a finding that he is a minor of about 17 years of age and accordingly, the case was transferred to the Juvenile Justice Board, Khliehriat who directed that the CCL be kept at the Observation Home (Boys), Shillong.
On 28.09.2020 the mother of CCL preferred a bail application under Section 12 of the JJ before the Principal Magistrate, JJB, Khliehriat.
On the ground that at that juncture, the statement of the survivor was yet to be recorded under Section 164 CrPc, the Principal Magistrate rejected the said bail application.
A revision petition was challenged by the petitioner(uncle of the CCL) before the High Court challenging the same, inter alia on the ground that the Principal Magistrate, JJB made a serious error in passing the said order without taking into account the provision of Section 12(1) of JJ Act.
The Court remarked that, various provisions under the JJ Act show that while dealing with a CCL, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) “is called upon to be highly sensitive keeping the welfare of the child in uppermost concern.
Court opined, when called upon to apply the provision of Section 12 of the said JJ Act, regard has to be had to the welfare of the child (Juvenile) inasmuch as confining such child in custody in whatever form would not be beneficial to the overall development of the child’s personality.
Directions issued to the Juvenile Justice Board by the Apex Court was that the JJBs shall consider taking steps to release all children on bail who are alleged to be in conflict with law, residing in Observation Homes, JJB, “unless there are clear and valid reasons for the application of the proviso to Section 12 (1), JJ Act 2015, which should have been complied with by the learned Principal Magistrate.”
In regarding instant case, the Court said that the Principal Magistrate has refused bail to the CCL only on the ground that the statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C of the survivor has not been recorded. There is no observation or finding as regard the three conditions laid down in the proviso of Section 12 (1) of the JJ Act which will restrain the CCL as far as his custody is concerned.”
The Magistrate violated the statutory provision present in the said Section 12 (1),observed the Court.
The Court in the above view noted, “the impugned order cannot stand the scrutiny of law and is accordingly set aside.”
Case title –
Shri. Ngaitlang Suchiang v. State of Meghalaya & Anr. [Crl.Rev.P. No. 8 of 2020]