Claim of juvenility can be raised before court at any time: HC

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New Delhi, Sep 25 (UNI) The Delhi High Court has quashed the remaining sentences of two boys who were awarded life imprisonment on charges of murder as their juvenility at the time of offence was not proved then.

Justices Mukul Mudgal and Reva Khetrapal quashed the life sentence awarded to Amit kumar and Ravinder Kumar after it was proved that they were 15 to 16 years of age when they committed the offence.

The court ruled that the accused cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment for any term whatsoever. It said, ''Ordinarily, we would have directed that the accused should be sent to special homes or to a fit institution, but we find it that accused Amit has already served more than five years of imprisonment and Ravinder has undergone nine years and 4 months of actual sentence so we quash the sentence awarded to them.'' The court observed that criminal courts should deal sensitively while dealing with the criminal offences by the juveniles and the issue of juvenilty may be looked into carefully. The lack of sensitivity on the parts of the courts bring to nought the attempt of the legislature to reform juvenile in conflict with law to reinstate him in society as a useful member. Even worse is a situation where juvenile delinquent is sent to prison emerges as hardended criminal, who cannot be reclaimed by society and must necessarily be lost in the world of crime.

Juvenile act, incorporated on December 30, 2000 defines ''juvenile'' or child as a person who has not completed 18 years of age.'' The claim of juvenility can be raised before any court at any stage, even after the final disposal of the case and shall be determined in accordance with the Act and the rules made thereunder, the court observed.

Amit and Ravinder had allegedly murdered five-year old Noor Alam in the year 1999. The trial court had sentenced them to life imprisonment but the boys contended that they were 15-16 years of age respectively at the time of offence so they should be dealt with the provisions of juvinile justice act where the boys below 18 years of age are guarded by the act and are sent to special homes for improvement and rehabilitation.


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