'Accused can't dupe courts by claiming to be juvenile'



New Delhi: An accused cannot be allowed to "dupe" the cause of justice in trial of heinous offences by claiming to be a juvenile and such pleas cannot be encouraged, a court has said, slamming attempts to use it as a "ploy" to escape penal consequences.

The observation came while dismissing a plea by Ranjeet alias Bihari, who is an accused in a robbery case here and had moved an application claiming that he was a juvenile at the time of alleged incident in May 2011.

The court rejected his plea holding that as per evidence on record, he is above 20 years old and he cannot claim to be a juvenile.

"In fact the plea of juvenility raised by the accused is merely to create a mist or smokescreen to hide his real age and he cannot be permitted to subvert and dupe the cause of justice," Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said.

The judge also referred to a recent judgement passed by the Supreme Court on the similar issue saying that it is the duty of courts to "scrutinise" the plea of juvenility with extreme caution to ensure that "plea of minority is not employed to escape punishment".

"The plea of juvenility cannot be a ruse to escape penal consequences and as observed by the apex court the same cannot be allowed to be used as a ploy to dupe the course of justice while conducting trial of heinous offences for this would clearly be treated as an effort to weaken the justice dispensation system and hence cannot be encouraged," the court said.

Ranjeet had moved the court claiming that on the date of the alleged incident on May 12, 2011, he was a juvenile and he had placed the entries made in his school register showing his date of birth as October 5, 1994.

The court had called for a report from the investigating officer (IO) and he was also directed to verify and obtain the relevant records from Ranjeet's village panchayat at Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh and from the school first attended to by him.

The court also noted that as per the records placed by the IO, the accused was involved in over 20 heinous cases.

"It is writ large that as per his own admission made in the court, he was married in the year 2009...Strange, it is, that when it comes to marriage or even casting of vote in the elections the applicant/accused Ranjeet becomes a major (year of birth mentioned in the election card is 1987) but when it comes to criminal prosecution in respect of heinous cases registered against him he starts singing juvenility," the judge said.

PTI