Author: Astha Srivastava, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi
Supreme Court has ruled that under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 for determining juvenility the matriculation or equivalent certificate from the concerned examination board does not have preference over the date of birth (DOB) certification from school.
In a criminal appeal of Sanjeev Kumar Gupta vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh and Anr. The accused has claimed juvenility on the basis of his matriculation certificate issued by Central Board of Secondary Education through an application. He submitted that on the date of alleged offence, he was 16 years 10 months and 11 days old.
The Juvenile Justice Board, at first allowed the application of the accused and declared him to be a juvenile on the date of the alleged offence. On later appeal filed, the age of the accused by the Chief Medical Officer was determined to be about 19 years. He then filed a revision before the High Court, which was dismissed. The Juvenile Justice Board, in the petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, rejected the claim of juvenility on the basis of the medical report and held him to be an adult on the date of the incident.
The accused then moved to the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in a criminal revision, where precedence was to be given to the Date of Birth which was indicated in the matriculation certificate. The decision of JJB, as affirmed in appeal by the Sessions Judge, was set aside and the claim of juvenility was allowed.
Notice to the CBSE, in the Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution, was issued to produce all necessary records pertaining to the date of birth of the accused.
The Act of 2000 has been, then repealed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015. Section94 of the Act of 2015 does not give precedence to the matriculation certificate to determine the age of the person.
Section 94 contains provisions in regard to the determination of age, is in the following terms:
“94. Presumption and determination of age.-(1) Where, it is obvious to the committee or the board, based on the appearance of the person brought before it under any of the provisions of this act (other than for the purpose of giving evidence) that the said person is a child, the Committee or the Board shall record such observation stating that the age of the child as nearly as may be and proceed with the inquiry under section 14 or section 36,as the case may be, without waiting for further confirmation of the age.
(2) In case, the committee or the board has reasonable grounds for doubt regarding whether the person brought before it is child or not, the committee or the board, as the case may be, shall undertake the process of age determination, by seeking evidence by obtaining-
(i) the date of birth certificate from the school, or the matriculation or equivalent certificate from the concerned examination board, if available; and in the absence thereof;
(ii) the birth certificate given by a corporation or a municipal authority or a panchayat;
(iii) and only in the absence of (i) and (ii) above, age shall be determined by an ossification test or any other latest medical age determination test conducted on the orders of the Committee or the Board.
Provided such age determination test conducted on the order of the committee or the board shall be completed within 15 days from the date of such order.
(3) The age recorded by the Committee or the board to be the age of person so brought before it shall, for the purpose of this Act, be deemed to be the true age of that person”.
The Court in the present case said:
“Section 94 (2) (a) (i) indicates a significant change over the provisions which were contained in Rule 12 (3) (a) of the Rules of 2007 made under the Act of 2000”.
Under Rule 12 (3) (a) (i) the matriculation or equivalent certificate was given precedence and it was only in the event of certificate not being available that the date of birth certificate from the school first attended could be obtained. In section 94 (2) (i) both the date of birth certificate from the school as well as the matriculation certificate are placed in the same category.
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