The Supreme Court on Friday sought a reply from the CBI on a plea filed by an accused in the murder of a 7-year-old student in Ryan International School, Gurugram in 2017. The applicant has sought an urgent hearing of his bail plea while challenging the order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh.
The Juvenile Justice Board on December 20 last year held that the teenager would be tried as an adult and directed that he be produced before the Gurugram Sessions Court.
Earlier, the court had barred the media from using the name of the accused minor and asked it to use fictitious names instead. While the victim was named “Prince” by the court, the juvenile accused was named “Bholu” and the school at Bhondsi was referred to as “Vidyalaya”.
A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and M.R. Shah heard the plea by Bholu through his Senior Counsel Manan Kumar Mishra, who submitted that his client is a 16-year-old boy and has been languishing in jail for the last three-and-a-half years just because of a media trial. The council said that his application for bail before the high court had been rejected.
Justice Shah replied: “Please don’t be in the confusion that you will be treated as a juvenile. Let the CBI file its counter-affidavit.” The judge adjourned the matter to July 1.
In his petition, the accused has pleaded that the Punjab and Haryana High Court to sought a direction to hear his bail plea at the earliest in the wake of COVID19 pandemic.
The FIR was registered in the year 2017 for the offense punishable under Section 302 IPC, 25 of the Arms Act, 75 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2005, and Section 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2002 at P.S. Bhondsi. It was alleged that a 7-year-old student of class 2 in Ryan International School named Prince was murdered by the accused. The parents of the student received a call from the faculty of the school who informed them about a cut on the kid’s neck and because of which he was admitted to Badhshahpur hospital. Later he was shifted to Artemis Hospital. The CBI took over the case and the petitioner was arrested.
The petitioner reminds that in the present era of Covid 19, the Apex Court had asked all the High Courts to consider release of prisoners in order to protect them from the deadly virus by decongesting the jail in suo motu WP ““In Re: Contagion Of Covid 19 Virus In Prisons”. The then bench stated that: “Overcrowded prisons where there is lack of proper sanitation, hygiene and medical facilities”, the bench said, adding “there is a requirement for effective management of pandemic from within the prison walls so as to defeat this deadly virus.”
Being a juvenile, the petitioner submitted that, last year the SC has observed in suo motu WP filed in regard with the protection of children, that interests of those children shall be protected in view of the intensifying Covid-19 pandemic. In the view of which the petitioner is seeking urgent hearing to prevent the spread of the virus to Child Care Institutions (CCIs) as during the present Covid19 wave, the children are catching the virus more.
The petitioner further submitted that several children staying with the petitioner at correctional home at Madhuban, Karnal, Haryana have been tested positive due to which the life of the Petitioner is in danger. He further revealed that there are two places of safety in the same boundary situated in Madhuban, Distt- Karnal. The place of safety No.1 has capacity of 50 children to be kept and safety No. 2 has capacity of 25 children.
Therefore, the total capacity of both is 75 children but there are above 200 juveniles detained in both the places. This is noteworthy to mention that as per a report dated 14.05.2021- 25 juveniles found Covid19 positive and RT-PCR test of all the juveniles and staff was done 1 or 2 days before the report. Approximately 18 juveniles are kept in each room where the capacity of 1 room is for 6-8 juveniles. However, there is high probability of spread of Covid-19 to other juveniles because sometime symptoms appear later as no social distancing is possible there because both place of safety are overcrowded up to 3 times of its capacity.
Also, in regard with the question that whether the petitioner is to be treated as an adult or juvenile for the purpose of the offence under section 15 of the juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is still pending before this Hon’ble Court and the Petitioner submitted that he has already completed more than 3 years under incarceration as per the provisions of Section 15 of the said Act and he can’t be detained in the prison house for an indefinite period.