HC accepts panchayat's age certificate, lets off rape convict
New Delhi: A convict has been set free in a kidnap-cum-rape case by the Delhi High Court, which took into account the age certificate issued by a village panchayat that stated he was a "juvenile" at the time of offence.
Justice GP Mittal accepted the panchayat's age certificate according to which the convict was about 17-year-old at the time of the crime.
"As per the date of birth certificate issued by the panchayat, the appellant was born on May 20, 1990. The alleged offence was committed on May 8, 2007. Thus, it is evident that the he was a few days less than 17 years on the date of commission of the offence and was thus a juvenile," the court said.
The court said this while allowing the appeal filed by the boy against a trial court's conviction and sentence order claiming himself to be a minor.
"Since the genuineness of the certificate issued by the panchayat was not disputed by the prosecution, rather the same was duly verified and found to be genuine, the ossification test conducted to determine appellant's (convict) age in pursuance of session judge's order dated February 18, 2008 was wholly irrelevant," it said.
Justice Mittal also cited provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules and also judgements of the Supreme Court to point out that a juvenile facing trial must be subjected to a bone ossification test only if there is no other documentary material available to determine his age.
While freeing the convict, the court said "the appellant was in custody since May 9, 2007 till date. Thus, he has already served sentence of five years and more than eight months till now without any remission.
"...Thus, no fruitful purpose would be served by sending the appellant to the JJB for an inquiry into the offence," the court said.
The trial court in September 2009 had sentenced the convict to 10-year in jail for the offence of rape and also seven-year jail term for kidnapping the victim.
The court had then passed its sentence based on the bone ossification test report which stated the convict was a more than 20 years at the time of the offence.