V. Vinay V/s Srinu Patro and another & Jagdish Kumar V/s State of Odisha and another
DATE OF ORDER:
16th December, 2022
JUSTICE SASHIKANTA MISHRA
Petitioner: V. Vinay
Defendant: Srinu Patro and another.
Appellant: Jagdish Kumar Muni
Respondent: State of Odisha and another
The Hon’ble High Court of Orissa at Cuttack (hereinafter referred to as ‘High Court’ or ‘the Court’), has stated that before reaching a decision on a petition, a court that is not a juvenile justice board must conduct an investigation and gather all necessary information in accordance with Section 9(2) of the juvenile justice act.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
- Section 9(2) - According to guidance from the High Court, before reaching a decision on a petition, a court that is not a juvenile justice board must conduct an investigation and gather all necessary information
- Section 101(5) - Anyone who feels wronged by a Children's Court decision may appeal it to the High Court using the process outlined in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- The order given on July 19, 2022 was challenged by both the subjects. V. Vinay, the petitioner in CRLREV No. 381 of 2022, filed an F.I.R. before the IIC of Gosaninuagaon Police Station in Berhampur on 14th June 2020, which resulted in the filing of P.S. Case No. 87 of 2020 under ptovions 458/394/302 of the IPC.
- The FIR was filed against unidentified individuals, but as the inquiry progressed and certain individuals' cooperation was revealed, a charge sheet was filed against them, with one Srinibas Patro.
- After taking cognizance, the case was submitted before the Court of Sessions for the trial. Srinibas Patro, the defendant, petitioned for treatment as a juvenile before the Sessions Court in accordance with Section 2(35) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Based on the birthdate listed on the school leaving record, this prayer was prepared.
- The prosecution opposed to the application on the grounds that Section 94(2) of the Juvenile Justice Act do not allow the School Leaving Certificate to be taken into account.
- However, the knowledgeable court below could not see any cause to doubt the certificate and accepted it, noting that the validity of the School record was not contested. Further, it was decided that in circumstances where there is a grey area between two conceivable interpretations of the same evidence, the court should be on the side of finding the accused to be a juvenile. The rules under Section 35 of the Indian Evidence Act that allow for the use of the School Leaving Certificate were also mentioned by the learned court below.
Whether the leaving certificate is the valid document under the JJ Act for the consideration of a juvenile?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER/ APPELLANT
- It was argued by both the council that section 9(2) of JJ Act argue that the court below, which is not the Juvenile Justice Board, should have undertaken the steps outlined in the stated provision.
- The certificate was issued belatedly and very certainly was fabricated only to support a juvenility allegation.
- The learned court below ought to have inquired into the matter and reached a decision based on the facts presented by the parties in order to ascertain the accused's age in accordance with the Statute.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- Contradicting the claims made by the knowledgeable attorney mentioned above, however, properly asserts that the process outlined in Sub-Section (2) of Section 9 of the Juvenile Justice Act must be followed if the question of the accused's age is brought up. The rule under Sub-Section (2) of Section 9 of the Juvenile Justice Act ought to be applied because the Court hereunder is not the Juvenile Justice Board.
ANALYSIS BY THE COURT:
- When such a claim is brought before a court that is not a Juvenile Justice Board, that court is mainly responsible for conducting an investigation, gathering any evidence required establishing the age, and recording a conclusion in the case based on that information.
- Naturally, in doing so, the requirements under Section 94 of the Act may also be taken into account, but the Statute mandates that an investigation be conducted and that, if required, evidence may also be obtained. The clause under Section 9(2) of the Juvenile Justice Act, for which the challenged order becomes susceptible, does not seem to have been taken into account by the learned court before.
- Therefore the order by the lower court has been set aside. The issue is returned to the lower court, which will decide whether to grant the accused's request to be treated as a juvenile once again by using the guidelines in Section 9(2) of the Juvenile Justice Act. It is clarified that this Court has so far not given its judgement on the case's merits.
- The accused has reportedly been sent to the observation home during the meantime, according to information at the bar. He will stay at the observation home until the age question is resolved.
- Accordingly, the CRLREV and CRLA are disposed of.
In the above case the court should be stringent in analysing the age factor when the question is upon the juvenility of the accused. This is important and the court must follow the legal procedure as it will not only affect the victim and their family but also the administration of justice. In order to eliminate any errors and injustice to the suffered one and the innocent suspects it is mandatory to follow the legality by the Court of Justice.
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