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Friday, September 20, 2013

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. = The certificate reveals the date of birth of the accused as 10.05.1991. The school leaving certificate was proved by examining the head mistress of the school. She has recognized the signatures of the principal who issued the school leaving certificate. The evidence adduced by the head mistress was not challenged. Consequently, there is no reason to discard that document. Further, we notice that there was some confusion as to whether the appellant, whose name is Ranjeet Goswami is the same person Rajiv Ranjan Goswami. The investigating officer’s report indicates that they are different persons. Consequently we have to take it that the school leaving certificate produced was in respect of the appellant which has been proved.- We, therefore, find no reason to reject the school leaving certificate. If that be so, as per the ratio laid down in Ashwani Kumar Saxena (supra) there is no question of subjecting the accused to a medical examination by a medical board. Going by the school leaving certificate since the appellant was a juvenile on the date of occurrence, he can be tried only by the JJ Board. Consequently, the order passed by the High Court is set aside and that of the Sessions Judge, Dumka is restored. The appeal is allowed, as stated above.

               published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40789
                                                   REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1465 OF 2013
           (@ Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No.10661 of 2010)




      Ranjeet Goswami                              ….. Appellant


                                   Versus


      State of Jharkhand & Anr.                  ….. Respondents



                               J U D G M E N T






      K.S. RADHAKRISHNAN, J.






      1.    Leave granted.


      2.    We notice with concern the commission of large number of  crimes
      by the juveniles at a time when there is a hue and cry  to  lower  the
      age limit of juvenile in conflict  with  law  within  the  meaning  of
      clause (l) of Section 2 of the Juvenile Justice (Care  and  Protection
      of  Children)  Act,  2000.   Claiming  juvenility  large   number   of
      applications are also being filed before the criminal courts  and  age
      determination enquiry orders passed by the Board themselves result  in
      several litigations right up to this Court.
This  case  is  also  one
      among them in spite  of the various directions given by this Court  as
      to how to determine the age of a juvenile  in  conflict  with  law  in
      Ashwani Kumar Saxena v. State of M.P. (2012) 9 SCC 750.


      3.    The appellant herein was charge-sheeted for the  offences  under
      Sections 376, 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, along  with  three
      others.   The  appellant,  after  submission  of   the   charge-sheet,
      surrendered before the court on 13.06.2008 and  filed  an  application
      before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dumka on 17.06.2008 stating that
      on the date of occurrence i.e. 12/13.04.2008 he was a  juvenile  since
      his date of birth was 10.05.1991, as  per  the  records  kept  in  the
      Primary School, Benagadia.


      4.    The CJM, Dumka forwarded the said application to  the  Principal
      Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Dumka (for short “the  JJ  Board”)
      to conduct an  appropriate  enquiry  and  to  submit  a  report.   The
      application was registered as GR Case No.577 of 2008.   The  appellant
      preferred a petition on 18.06.2008 before the  Board  to  examine  the
      Principal of Primary  School,  Benagadiya  along  with  the  admission
      register and also to examine the person in-charge of the Head  Master,
      as well as the head mistress of Akmit School, Benagadia to  prove  his
      date of birth.  Application was allowed on 23.06.2008, but on the same
      date, a fresh petition was filed on  behalf  of  the  respondent  duly
      endorsed by the APP stating that the appellant had produced  a  forged
      copy of the admission register.  Appellant  examined  Neela  Hembrahm,
      who was the Head Mistress of the School since 17.8.2006, to prove  the
      School Leaving Certificate issued on 10.4.2004, by the then  Principal
      of  the  School,  whose  signature  was  identified  and   recognized.
      Applications dated 26.6.2008 and 31.7.2008  were  also  filed  by  the
      appellant for medical examination.


      5.    The JJ Board then sought the opinion of the  Medical  Board  and
      the Board opined that the appellant was about 20 years of age  on  the
      date of the incident.  There was some confusion whether the  appellant
      and one Rajiv Ranjan Goswami was the same person,  but  it  was  found
      otherwise,  and  the  School  Leaving  Certificate  produced  was  not
      accepted.  The JJ Board, however, accepted the report of  the  Medical
      Board and passed an order  on  27.3.2009,  rejecting  the  application
      holding that  the  appellant  was  not  a  juvenile  on  the  date  of
      occurrence.  JJ Board then forwarded the report to the  CJM.   Learned
      CJM, on accepting the report, committed the case to the Sessions Court
      and it was registered as Case No.132 of 2009. Accused  then  preferred
      Criminal Miscellaneous Appeal No.71 of 2009 before the Sessions Judge,
      Dumka.  Learned Sessions Judge took the view that the JJ Board had not
      assigned any  cogent  reasons  for  discarding  the  School  Admission
      Register and then to accept the medical report.   Learned  Judge  also
      took the view that there was conflicting evidence as to the age of the
      accused, hence the benefit of doubt should go  to  the  accused.   The
      appeal was accordingly allowed and the order passed by the court below
      was set aside and a direction was given to recall the  case  from  the
      Sessions Court to be tried by the JJ Board.


      6.    The respondent aggrieved by the order, approached  the  Division
      Bench of the High Court by way of Criminal Revision  No.504  of  2009.
      The Criminal Revision was allowed and the order passed by the JJ Board
      was restored, setting aside the order dated 30.05.2009, passed by  the
      Sessions Judge, Dumka.


      7.    Shri  Shankar  Narayanan,  learned  counsel  appearing  for  the
      appellant submitted that the High Court  has  committed  an  error  in
      reversing the judgment of the Sessions  Judge  without  examining  the
      correctness or otherwise on the school admission register, which  will
      indicate that his date of birth is 10.05.1991 and hence a juvenile  on
      the date of  occurrence  i.e.  12/13-04-2008.   Learned  counsel  also
      submitted that the admission register was properly proved through  the
      head mistress of the school and there is  no  reason  to  discard  the
      same.  Learned counsel submitted that the question  of  accepting  the
      report of  the  medical  board  arises  only  if  the  school  leaving
      certificate is discarded by stating cogent reasons.


      8.    Shri Barun  Kumar  Sinha,  learned  counsel  appearing  for  the
      respondent, on the other hand,  submitted  that  the  High  Court  has
      rightly accepted the report of the medical board which indicated  that
      the accused was not a juvenile on the  date  of  occurrence.   Learned
      counsel pointed out that the medical board has assessed the age of the
      accused as 20 years on the  date  of  occurrence  i.e.  12/13-04-2008.
      Learned counsel also submitted that  there  was  some  confusion  with
      regard to the documents produced, one document showed that the date of
      birth of one Rajiv Ranjan Goswami as 10.04.1990 though the appellant’s
      date of birth was shown as 10.05.1991.  It is due  to  that  confusion
      the matter was referred to the medical board  and  medical  board,  in
      turn, opined that the age of the accused was 20 years on the  date  of
      occurrence.


      9.    We are of the view that no cogent reasons have  been  stated  by
      the High court to discard the school  leaving  certificate  which  was
      issued on 10.04.2004  by  the  then  Principal  of  the  school.  
The
      certificate reveals the date of birth of the  accused  as  10.05.1991.
      The school leaving  certificate  was  proved  by  examining  the  head
      mistress of the school.  
She has  recognized  the  signatures  of  the
      principal who issued the school  leaving  certificate.   The  evidence
      adduced by the head mistress was not challenged.  
Consequently,  there
      is no reason to discard that document.  
Further, we notice that  there
      was some confusion as to whether the appellant, whose name is  Ranjeet
      Goswami is the same person Rajiv Ranjan  Goswami.   
The  investigating
      officer’s  report  indicates  that   they   are   different   persons.
      Consequently we have to take it that the  school  leaving  certificate
      produced was in respect of the appellant which has been proved.


      10.   We, therefore, find no  reason  to  reject  the  school  leaving
      certificate.  
If that be so, as per the ratio  laid  down  in  Ashwani
      Kumar Saxena (supra) there is no question of subjecting the accused to
      a medical examination by a medical board.  
Going by the school leaving
certificate since  the  appellant  was  a  juvenile  on  the  date  of occurrence, he can be tried only by the JJ Board.   
Consequently,  the
      order passed by the High Court is set aside and that of  the  Sessions
      Judge, Dumka is restored.  The appeal is allowed, as stated above.




                                              …….……………………….J.
                                              (K.S. Radhakrishnan)






                                              ……………………………J.
                                              (A.K. Sikri)
      New Delhi,
      September 18, 2013

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