The Bombay High Court has recently directed the Juvenile Justice Board to verify the age of a 27-year-old man, sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case in 2010.
The man filed a plea through his father claiming that he was only 17 years old at the time of murder and should have been treated as a juvenile rather than being convicted as an adult. The court has asked the Board to submit the report within 14 weeks.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik passed an order on the petition filed by one Arvindkumar Sahu, a resident of Khar in Mumbai, who has been lodged in the Nashik Central Jail since May 4, 2010.
The habeas corpus plea sought directions to the state government to release him and to initiate inquiry to verify the claim of juvenility raised by the petitioner.
Advocate Manas N Gawankar submitted that Sahu had undergone 10 years of imprisonment so far. His appeal against conviction before the High Court was dismissed in June 2015, whereas consequent challenge to HC order was dismissed by the Supreme Court in February 2016.
Gawankar added that when Sahu was out on parole and had visited his native place in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh in 2017, he came across certain documents that indicated his date of birth as July 7, 1992. Therefore, he had not completed 18 years of age at the time of the murder on October 6, 2009.
Thereafter, his father obtained a copy of the school register and transfer certificate issued by the school, where the petitioner completed his education. On November 21, last year, the Section Education Officer, Allahabad, issued a certified copy of the said school register and transfer certificate to the petitioner with the same birth date as claimed. The same date was mentioned on his marksheet from 2005-06 and the gram panchayat register.
Gawankar argued that his client was a juvenile on the date of commission of the offence and hence he should be treated as ‘juvenile in conflict of law’ as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and sought Sahu’s release.
After hearing submissions, the court held, “In these circumstances, it would be expedient to refer the matter to the Juvenile Justice Board, Mumbai, for making an enquiry as regards the issue of juvenility of the petitioner in accordance with law and submit the report to this court.”
The court added that the report be submitted as expeditiously as possible and and gave the Board 14 weeks for the same.
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