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Rights of children completely non-negotiable: HC

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Rights of children are completely non-negotiable even if they are implicated in a heinous crime, High has said while expressing pain over the way a sessions dealt with a case in which a juvenile was "incarcerated" for over nine years.

The high suggested that there was a need to train trial judges regarding the relating to juveniles, saying the sessions had dealt with the matter while being "completely oblivious" of the valuable rights of a minor under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act.

Acquitting the minor boy forthwith, a bench of Justices Gita Mittal and P S Teji directed the high registry to send the copy of its order to Director (Academics) of Judicial Academy for designing refresher course on juvenile justice and compiling the material for it.

"This design shall be sent to every District Judge, who, if possible, would organise and implement the training at the district complexes for expediency and to save the time of judges. The timing of implementation of the training may be staggered to ensure that the programme is undertaken urgently and by every member of the judicial service," it said.

The bench noted that the minor was arrested on January 13, 2007, and incarcerated ever since. He underwent over nine years of imprisonment which was much more than the maximum sentence permissible under the provisions of the JJ Act.

This case also reflected the callousness of the police on the importance of the issue relating to ascertaining the age of the boy, who was convicted in August 2014 in the case and awarded life term, the bench said. The boy had claimed to be a minor at the time of commission of the crime.

"... Rights of the child are completely non-negotiable. Even, if he/she may stand implicated for commission of a heinous crime. The SHO of the police station concerned, who having conducted the age inquiry, would have known about it. Yet, he also made no effort to inform the trial about the same," the bench noted.

"In any case, the appellant (minor) could not have been

kept in the jail meant for adult prisoners but was required to be kept in the observation home, that too only for the maximum period of three years. As such, he cannot be detained in custody any longer," the bench said and directed that he be released forthwith from custody if he was not wanted in any other case.

"Before parting with the case, we are pained to note that the matter has proceeded as if in routine. A sessions has dealt with the case, completely oblivious of the valuable rights of a juvenile under the JJ Act, ignorant of judicial precedents on the subject and the orders of the single judge of this in this very case. This situation suggests a re-visit to training in relating to juveniles, procedural and substantive," the said.

The order came on the application of the boy, who had approached the seeking to declare him a juvenile. He had challenged his conviction before the high and his appeal was dismissed in November 2015.

First Published: Thu, October 13 2016. 16:32 IST