DATE OF JUDGEMENT:
1st July, 2013
Justices P. Sathasivam and Jagdish Singh Khehar
Jarnail Singh (Appellant)
State of Haryana (Respondent)
The Court, in this case, held that the procedure which is used to determine the age of a child who is in conflict with law as have been provided by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007, can be followed in cases falling under POCSO Act, 2012 as well.
- The prosecutrix went missing on the night of 25th-26th March and the parents of the prosecutrix pointed suspicion to the accused (appellant) Jarnail Singh.
- Subsequently, the prosecutrix was found at the residence of the accused and the accused was arrested.
- The statement of the prosecutrix was recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Additional Sessions Judge sentenced the accused to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs. 500.
- The appellant then unsuccessfully challenged the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The appellant then appealed before the Supreme Court.
- The appellant contended that it was the prosecutrix who had allured him to take her away and stayed with the accused without any protest.
- Furthermore, the appellant contended that the prosecutrix had not been proven to be minor.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007
- Rule 12(3): In every case concerning a child or juvenile in conflict with law, the age determination inquiry shall be conducted by the court or the Board or, as the case may be, the Committee by seeking evidence by obtaining –
(a) (i) the matriculation or equivalent certificates, if available; and in the absence whereof;
(b) (ii) the date of birth certificate from the school (other than a play school) firstattended; and in the absence whereof;
(c) (iii) the birth certificate given by a corporation or a municipal authority or apanchayat;
- Whether the prosecutrix had gone with the accused out of her own consent?
- What is the procedure for the determination of the age of the minor?
- The Court observed, that the prosecutrix, in her statement had expressly stated that she was forcibly taken away by the accused and his accomplices.
- Furthermore, even if the prosecutrix had gone with the accused out of her own consent, the consent would be inconsequential as the prosecutrix was a minor at the time of offence.
- On the issue of the age of the prosecutrix, the Court held that Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 would be applicable in the present case too.
- The Court held that the procedure to be followed for determining the age of a minor would be the same in case of a child in conflict with law and in case of a child who is a victim of crime.
- The Court pointed that as per Rule 12, for proving the age of the minor, the first preference is to be given to the matriculation certificate, second preference is to be given to the date entered in the first school of the child and the third preference is to be given to the certificate issued by the local municipality.
- Since the first preference was not available as the prosecutrix had studied only class 3, the second preference was relied upon. The Court thus held that the prosecutrix was less than 15 years of age, and hence a minor, at the time of occurrence.
- The Court therefore dismissed the appeal.
The Court rightly observed that the procedure followed for determining the age of a minor can be the same in case of. child in conflict with law and a minor victim. The question in both the cases is the age of the child and hence the procedure can be the same.
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