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  • The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently ruled that the JJ Board is not required to consider the social investigation report prior to considering a bail petition under section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act because the legislature never intended for that to happen. 
  • The bench was hearing a revision petition filed under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, seeking to set aside the judgement passed by the Principal Sessions Judge, Kulgam, granting interim bail to the petitioners under Section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
  • The petitioners challenged the bail cancellation order in their plea on the grounds that the Appellate Court rewrote Section 12, which is otherwise unambiguous and clear regarding bail to be mandatorily granted to juveniles in conflict with the law. 
  • The petitioners also claimed that neither clause (e) of Subsection 3 of Section 8 nor Section 15 nor Section 18 (3) of the JJ Act provides or indicates that the law enshrined in the aforementioned provisions is to be followed for the consideration of bail applications under Section 12.
  • Dismissing the subordinate court's observation while discussing Section 8 of the Act, 2015 the court observed that the legislature intended that the denial or grant of bail to juveniles should be based on an overall appreciation of the conditions of the person who appears to be a child, alleged to have committed a non-bailable offence, and this appreciation has to be based on social investigation done by the Probation Officer or some Child Welfare Officer or a Social Worker.
  • Dismissing another observation of the trial court in invoking Section 15 of the JJ Act, the bench observed that Section 15 of the Act has been envisaged for deciding whether the trial of a juvenile, who is of 16 years age or above and found to be mentally and physically mature to commit a crime by a Juvenile Justice Board or by the Children court, and this provision cannot be read with the provisions of Section 12 of the Act with regard to consideration of bail with the Children court.
  • Delving deeper into the issue, the bench concluded that the nature of the offence is not one of the factors on which bail may be granted or refused to a juvenile in conflict with the law, and thus bail cannot be denied to a juvenile in conflict with the law on the basis of the gravity of the offence involved. 
  • Section 12 of the J.J. Act requires juveniles in conflict with the law to be granted bail, and the bench noted that grant of bail to such a person is a rule and denial is an exception.
  • Given the foregoing, the Court concluded that juveniles in conflict with the law are entitled to be released on bail as a general rule under Section 12 of the J.J.Act, regardless of the gravity of the offence, the preliminary assessment as envisaged under Section 15 of the Act, or the difference in age below or above 16 years.


 

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