New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has declared a youth "juvenile" and set aside his life sentence in a case of causing grievous hurt during a robbery in 2008, observing that there was a laxity on the part of police and trial courts for not examining his age.
Granting the benefit under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)(JJ) Act, a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and V P Vaish recently accepted his school certificate in which his date of birth was recorded as October 24, 1990, and said, "We maintain the conviction of the appellant but set aside his sentence."
Allowing the youth`s plea, the bench rejected the Public Prosecutor`s argument that the accused did not take up the plea that he was a juvenile during the trial proceedings.
"This apparently is factually correct but does not help them or compel us to reject the application...The argument exposes and shows lapse on the part of the prosecuting agency and the courts(trial) as this question (age) was not examined and gone into. It can be argued that possibly if the appellant was suitably counselled and guided on the first occasion, he may have turned into a responsible and law abiding citizen.
"The Act mandates and ensures that a juvenile, in conflict with law, is rehabilitated. J J Act is recuperative in nature and not punitive or retributive in approach," the bench observed.
The court also accepted the suggestion of the youth`s lawyer Pramod Dubey that his client should be given counselling and send him to an After Care Home for boys above the age of 18 years.
On March 9, 2010 the trial court had sentenced the youth along with three others to life imprisonment under sections 394 (causing hurt in committing robbery) and 397 (committing robbery to cause death or grievous hurt) in a case registered against him in Adarsh Nagar police station in 2008.
He was also sentenced to five years jail-term under the Arms Act.