The SC directs to release a person convicted for sodomizing on the ground that he was juvenile at the date of the offense

Approach of Art.136 Cannot Be Adopted While Deciding Petitions by The High Court Under Art.227: SC

The bench of Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice V. Ramasubramanian of the Supreme Court has directed to release a person convicted for sodomizing on the ground that he was juvenile at the date of offense.

Prior Facts:

‘X’ was convicted under Section 377 read with Section 511 of the Indian Penal Code on the ground that he subjected a ten years old boy to carnal intercourse. He was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years with a fine of Rs. 3000 with a default sentence. The trial court has rejected the school certificate, which recorded his date of birth as 10.08.1984, on the ground that upon medical assessment, he was found to be 20 years of age. The High Court while dismissing the Revision Petition did not consider the plea of juvenility. The matter came up before the Supreme Court.

In the November 2019 orders by the SC, it keeping in view the fact that the petitioner has already suffered incarceration for almost one year, six months and 15 days to date, out of a total sentence of three years, inclined to grant him bail. The petitioner was accordingly directed to be enlarged on bail on such terms and conditions to be imposed by the trial court.

Relevant Portion of the Report produced by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM):

The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) observed in his report submitted by him in the Supreme Court on the orders the Apex Court dated 22.11.2019 that, “In the present case, in the foregoing discussion, it has been well-founded that no contrary facts or pieces of evidence has been brought on the record, regarding the transfer certificate and date of birth of the petitioner, mentioned in transfer certificate as well as testimony of this witness (E.W.3), is not discredited who brought the admission register before the Court.  The E.W., 5 has also corroborated the issuance of transfer certificate bears his signature. Hence, there is nothing on the record to discard and disbelieve the transfer certificate.  Therefore, in the view of above-discussed facts and reasons, as well as ratio laid down by the Hon’ble Courts   above   discussed,   I   find   that   date   of   birth   of   the petitioner was 10.08.1984 and on the date of occurrence i.e., 12.03.2001, the petitioner was at the age of 16 years 7 months and 2 days and as per Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice   (Care   and   Protection   of   Children)   Act   2000,   the petitioner   namely   –   SukhdeoSingh   @   JannuSingh   was juvenile or child on the date of occurrence.

Key Features:

  • While considering the appeal, the SC directed the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) to conduct an inquiry and submit a report concerning the claim of juvenility. The report submitted by him stated that he was juvenile or child on the date of occurrence.
  • Objecting to the report, the state contended that the school certificate was not conclusive and the certificate issued by the school in which he studied at the earliest point of time alone could be conclusive evidence.
  • In the instant matter, the petitioner has claimed that he was under the age of 18 years on the date of the incident and accordingly he is claiming juvenility as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
  • The petitioner has relied upon the Transfer Certificate issued by the Indian School of Learning, Dhanbad, which was issued by the Principal of the said School on 17.03.2001, and in which the date of birth of the petitioner has been mentioned as 10.08.1984.
  • The trial court, vide order dated 05.08.2002, has not considered this aspect and simply rejected the claim of juvenility stating that it cannot rely upon the horoscope and the school certificate as these were not the proper and genuine documents to assess the age of the petitioner.
  • The bench of SC believed that the same does not align with the requirements as contemplated under the Act.

Judgement:

The bench of the Supreme Court observed that “As per the transfer certificate produced by the appellant, his date of birth was 10.08.1984. The transfer certificate also mentions his date of admission in the school as 06.03.1990. The admission register was also produced before the ACJM. The name of the appellant was mentioned at serial number 249 therein. The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) has recorded and matched the recital contained in the certificate issued by the first attended school with the date of birth.” The Court has no reason to doubt the correctness or genuineness of the report submitted by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM). Hence, the Court held that “the appeal is allowed and the sentence imposed upon the appellant is set aside. The appellant shall be released forthwith unless he is in custody in respect of some other case”.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference:

  • Case of Sukhdeo Singh@ Jannu Singh vs The State of Jharkhand,Criminal Appeal No. 364 of 2020, Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.7952 Of 2019, Decided by the Supreme Court of India on February 24, 2020.
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Vaibhav Goyal is a 3rd year BA.LLB (H) student of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also basically belongs to the “City Beautiful-Chandigarh”. He had interned and have work experience at various Central and State Government bodies of India including the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi; the Central Information Commission, New Delhi; U.T. Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, etc. His research projects includes the study on the Right to Emergency Services (PSHRC), Resettlement of Migrant People (NHRC), Implications of RTI in Financial Institutions (CIC), etc. His publications involve articles in different fields of law like administrative, jurisprudence, etc. on online journals including the Juscholars Blog, Burnished Law Journal, etc. His research paper on Prison Reform was published in the Panjab University Journal and his paper was selected in category of best abstract on the topic of Naxalism: A State of Lawlessness and Arbitrariness. He had scored well in various competitions of law consisting of Quiz, Essay Writing, Lecture, Declamation, etc. He had also participated in various conferences including the World Law Forum Conference on Strategic Lawsuits on Public Participation held in New Delhi on Oct 20, 2018 and the National Law Conclave 2020 held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Jan 11, 2020.