Juvenile To Be Tried As Adult Can Seek Benefit Of Juvenile Justice Act: High Court

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Merely because a juvenile is directed to be tried as an adult in a case does not mean he or she can be denied the benefit of provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, the Bombay High Court said while granting bail to a youngster in a murder case.
A single bench of Justice Bharati Dangre on October 21 granted bail to a youngster arrested in 2020 by Borivali police for murder. The accused was 17 years old at the time of the offence.

The accused sought bail under section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act, which states that any child in conflict with law ought to be released on bail notwithstanding any provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure and placed under the supervision of a probation officer or any family member.

The accused approached the high court after a special children’s court rejected his bail plea on the ground that the Juvenile Justice Board had directed him to be tried as an adult in the case and hence, he could not seek the benefit of provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

The high court, however, refused to accept this and noted that though the accused had been ordered to be tried as an adult, he was still a juvenile.

“Merely because he is directed to be tried as an adult, he cannot be denied the benefit of section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act,” Justice Dangre said.

“The Juvenile Justice Act focuses on a principle of presumption of innocence and on the principle of best interest as well as principle of repatriation and restoration, by virtue of which, the applicant, who is a juvenile, has a right to be reunited with his family at the earliest and to be restored in the same socio-economic and cultural status that he was in,” the order said.

The high court in its order noted that the Juvenile Justice Act was a beneficial piece of legislation with the objective of providing care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles.

According to the prosecution, on March 12, 2020, the youngster along with his friend stabbed an acquaintance with whom they had a dispute.

The police opposed his bail plea and argued that at the time of the commission of offence, the accused was 17 years, 11 months and 24 days old and was mentally mature to understand the consequences of his action.

Justice Dangre also relied on the report submitted by the youth’s probation officer who said that this was the first time the accused was involved in a criminal act and that he was under the influence of narcotic substances at the time.

The report further stated that the accused was attending counselling and his father was ready to take his custody and ensure his well-being.

“The report of the probation officer has recorded that the child in conflict with law (accused youth) has committed the offence under the influence of a drug and in a fit of anger and he had no intention to kill the victim, but his intention was only to beat him,” the high court said in its order.

The youngster had studied till Class 10 and was working to earn money, it added.

“The probation officer report also reveals that at present he (accused) was learning carpentry work. He is also attending counselling sessions. The remark of the probation officer is that the overall behaviour of the child is noticed to be good,” the order said.

The court ordered for the youngster to be released on bail on a personal bond of ₹ 25,000 and ordered him to report to the probation officer once every two months.

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