SC:Registrar’s inquiry on juvenility may supplant High Court’s contrary view

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 22nd February 2019, in the matter of Raju v. The State of Haryana pronounced that if in accordance with the relevant law(s), an inquiry into a claim of juvenility is done by a Registrar(judicial) on directions of the Supreme Court, his findings may prevail upon a contrary view taken by the High Court which is not based upon any inquiry as mandated by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

If any court, including the Supreme Court, is of the opinion that an accused person was a juvenile on the date of commission of the offence, or if a claim of juvenility is raised before it, the Court must conduct an inquiry regarding the determination of the age of the accused. The evidence collected by way of such inquiry, as is specified in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 in clauses (a)(i), (ii), and (iii) of Rule 12(3), or in the absence whereof, clause (b) of the same, is treated as conclusive proof of the age of the accused. (Para 13)

Seeing that the Registrar (Judicial) is a District Judge serving on deputation at the Supreme Court, recourse to his or her assistance in the form of collecting evidence and arriving at a finding regarding the claim of juvenility of the person concerned may be undertaken by the Supreme Court in order to save its judicial time. (Para 17)

However, it must be stressed that the findings in an inquiry conducted by the Registrar (Judicial) would not per se prevail upon a contrary view taken by the High Court. Only after the Supreme Court applies its judicial mind to such report with due regard to the confines of the procedure stipulated in Section 7A of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007, and only if it thereafter confirms the findings in such report would the same prevail upon a contrary view taken by the High Court which is not based upon any such inquiry. (Para 17)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_22-Feb-2019

-Tushar Kaushik

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