In a case where a 17-year-old murder accused was recommended by the Juvenile Justice Board to be tried as an adult, the Bombay High Court has ruled that he cannot be denied the protection available to him under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The High Court termed the earlier judgement of the sessions court (children’s court) rejecting the bail application of the accused, “unfortunate”.
Justice Bharti Dangre of the Bombay High Court observed, “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. Section 12 must be construed keeping the socio-beneficial aim of the law in mind.”
Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act permits Juvenile Justice Board to send a minor between 16 and 18 years of age to face trial as an adult if the crime is of a heinous nature. At the same time, section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act contains provisions providing bail to a minor even when one is being tried as an adult.
The High Court noted that the probation officer’s report mentioned the crime as “unintentional and committed under the influence of a narcotic substance”. Importantly, the court noted that the report mentioned that the officer noticed “traces of repentance” in the boy.
The boy had attacked the victim with broken glasses along with his friend on March 12, 2020. He was arrested the very next day and sent to an observation home for boys in Dongri, Mumbai. The boy insisted that he was 17 years, 11 months and six days old at the time of the crime. However, the court realised that he was 17 years, 11 months and 24 days old, making him ineligible to claim protection under the Juvenile Justice Act.