The High Court of Madhya Pradesh has directed a juvenile accused under the Juvenile Justice Act to apply afresh for bail before the Juvenile Justice Board, while asking the Board to grant the bail in case such application is made.
A revision petition was filed under the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of Children) Act, 2015 against order of Additional Sessions Judge and Principal Judge of the Juvenile Justice Board that had rejected the application of the accused for release on bail under the Act. The accused petitioner is himself a juvenile, and is 17 years old, while the victim prosecutrix is 15 years old.
According to the petitioners, there is no medical evidence of the incident and no injury was found on body of the victim, the consent of the prosecutrix was involved and she resided with the accused herself. The stand of the petitioners was opposed by the State stating that considering the nature of the crime committed, the orders passed by the court were called for and cannot be termed illegal as no illegality or perversity was committed by the Courts.
The Court made note of the Supreme Court’s order while taking suomotu cognizance of situation of prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic, directing all States to constitute a High Level Committee to consider the release of prisoners in order to decongest the prisons. The High Powered Committee was directed to determine the category of prisoners who could be released, depending upon the nature of offence, the duration of sentence and the severity of the offence or any other relevant factor that the Committee would consider appropriate.
The Court also made note of Section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, according to which if a juvenile accused is arrested or detained, he cannot be released if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the release is likely to bring him into association with any known criminal or expose him to moral, physical or psychological danger or if his release would defeat the ends of justice.
According to the Bench, the lower Courts had rejected the bail application of the accused since the crime committed was very serious and his release would have defeated the ends of justice, but it also needs to noted that the intent of the Legislature is to not keep a juvenile offender in custody except in circumstances mentioned under the Act. Therefore if bail is refused to the accused, it will be against the intention of the Juvenile Justice Act.
The Court therefore ordered the applicant to move afresh for bail before the Juvenile Board through his guard, asked the Board to release him on bail if such an application is moved.
The bail order will also be subjected to certain conditions like, furnishing of a personal bond in sum of Rs. One lakh, presence of accused on dates of hearing, not be associated with any criminals, etc.
Read the Order Here;CRR_1121_2020_FinalOrder_22-May-2020
-India Legal Bureau