New Delhi: The Supreme Court division bench of Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Justice Indira Banerjee on Friday ordered to acquit Raju, one of the accused in the gang-rape case after it was found that he was juvenile aged 16 years old at the time of the incident.
The bench observed that he had already spent 6years in jail whereas a juvenile may be sent to a special home for only 3 years as per Section 15(1)(g) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
The appellant, Raju filed the present appeal in the Supreme Court against the dismissal of his earlier appeal in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana on August 28, 2011 on the grounds that he was aged less than 18 years at the time of commission of the offence challenging the judgment of his conviction under Section 376(2)(g) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) passed on November 8, 2002.
The appellant in his appeal, as a proof produced some Certificates issued by schools, to claim that he was a juvenile. The court ordered Registrar (Judicial) to conduct an enquiry as a result of which it was found out that the age of Raju was 16 years, 2 months and 2 days at the time of the commission of the offence and hence he was juvenile at that time.
On it the bench said, "We do not have any doubt that the inquiry conducted by the Registrar (Judicial) upon the direction of this Court in the instant matter amounts to an inquiry conducted by this Court itself, and is conclusive proof of the age of the Appellant as provided in Rule 12(3) of the 2007 Rules. As the Appellant satisfies the requirement of Sections 2(k) and 2(l) of the 2000 Act, the said Act is applicable to him in full force in light of Section 7A and Section 20."
The State contended that plea of juvenility as decided by the Registry should not be given precedence over the view of the High Court, the bench in this regard observed that the High Court did note even frame its discussion in terms of whether the evidence brought on record was sufficient to conduct an inquiry under the 2000 Act and the 2007 Rules.
The court added, on the contrary, it simply recorded that the evidence did not go to show that the appellant was a juvenile at the time of the commission of the offence, and proceeded to affirm the conviction of the appellant on merits.
Brief facts of the Case, an FIR was registered against Raju and two others for allegedly intercepting the 15-year-old girl when she passing by some fields along with her one year old brother. It was alleged that Raju stood outside the field while the other two gang-raped the prosecutrix on September 14, 2000.
The three accused were convicted for the offence punishable under Section 376(2)(g) of the IPC, and sentenced to 10 year’s rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500/, and further two month’s rigorous imprisonment in default of payment of a fine. Aggrieved by the same, the three accused appealed to the High Court.