Chennai, Aug 31: The Madras High Court today quashed a Tamil Nadu government order declaring all the sub-jails in the state as borstal schools and suggested it to repeal the Tamil Nadu Borstal Schools Act, 1925, saying it has outlived its purpose.
A five-member special bench comprising Justices A Selvam, M Sathyanarayanan, B Rajendran, R Mala, and N Prakash, quashed the Tamil Nadu government order passed on August 12, 2008. Borstal school is a special institution, in which adolescent offenders aged between 18 and 21 are lodged and given industrial training and other instructions.
The special bench was constituted to answer several legal questions such as whether the Act casts a duty upon the court to examine if an adolescent convict would be entitled to the benefits of the law and would the failure of the court to examine this aspect at the time of conviction and sentence, give a vested right to the offender to claim the benefits retrospectively, even after crossing the age of 21.
The bench said the borstal school concept has outlived its purpose and it suggested to the state government to consider repealing it. Sections 8 and 11 of the Act do not cast a duty upon the court to examine whether an adolescent offender would be entitled to the benefit of the Act and it is for the offender to avail the privilege after his conviction and before the passing of sentence, it held.
However, the convicted person does not have a vested right to claim the benefits of the Act after crossing the age of 21 years, it further said. It was open to the magistrates to remand the accused between the age group of 18 and 21 to prisons and not to borstal schools, the bench said.