New Delhi: Supreme Court today held that the provision of the Juvenile Justice Act on determination of age of a delinquent juvenile be also put to use for ascertaining the age of minor victims.
"Even though Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 is strictly applicable only to determine the age of a child in conflict with law, we are of the view that the aforesaid statutory provision should be the basis for determining age, even for a child who is a victim of crime," a bench of justices P Sathasivam and J S Khehar said.
The court said the legislation, meant for juveniles who are in conflict with law, should be used for minor victims also as there is hardly any difference between them so far as the issue of age is concerned.
"In our view, there is hardly any difference in so far as the issue of minority is concerned, between a child in conflict with law, and a child who is a victim of crime," it said.
The observation came in a verdict by which it rejected the appeal of one Jarnail Singh against his conviction and award of 10 years jail term for raping a minor after kidnapping her from a place in Haryana in 1983.
It said the ossification test of the victim girl was not needed to ascertain her age as the testimony of the headmaster of the school, which she had attended, was final.
"...Rule 12(3), envisages consideration of the date of birth entered, in the school first attended by the child. In case such an entry of date of birth is available, the date of birth depicted therein is liable to be treated as final and conclusive, and no other material is to be relied upon," the apex court said.
"Accordingly, we hereby endorse the conclusions recorded by the High Court that even if the prosecutrix had accompanied the accused-appellant Jarnail Singh of her own free will, and had had consensual sex with him, the same would have been clearly inconsequential, as she was a minor," the court said, upholding the conviction.