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Plea of juvenility can be raised at any stage of proceedings: SC

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The Supreme Court on Friday observed “It is the settled principle of law that the claim of juvenility can be raised at any point of time,” while remitting the case back to High Court of Allahabad, which had dismissed the claim of juvenility & convicted appellant for offence punishable under Section 304-I IPC.

The bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah, while remitting the matter back to Allahabad High Court, observed that the order of High Court indicates that principal magistrate of Juvenile Justice Board had submitted his report regarding the verification of age of convict/ appellant at the time of incident and therefore, the High Court shall consider the plea of juvenility. 

The bench further clarified that no view on merits has been taken on this impugned judgment. However, the High Court may take up the matter and dispose of the same within 3 months of time after it received the certified copy of this order. The bench further granted liberty to the appellant to move his bail application before the High Court which may be decided expeditiously. It also granted liberty to the appellant to avail the legal aid, in case he want. 

The Additional Sessions Judge, Faizabad convicted the appellant in November 1981 under section 302 r/w section 34 of Indian Penal Code for killing the victim (deceased) on account of personal enmity. Thereafter the convict filed an appeal to challenge the conviction and also applied for bail, during the pendency of the proceedings before High Court of Allahabad, the convict moved an application stating that he was a juvenile of 15 years of age when the said incident happened and the same should be considered by the High Court. However, the High Court dismissed the application of juvenility and observed that though the victim died due to blow in head by the lathi, but it is clear that accused didn’t had any intention of killing the deceased and considering the nature of injuries, the manner of assault, weapon used, the Allahabad High Court considered it appropriate to convict the accused under Section 304 Part I of the IPC and sentenced them to undergo 10 years rigorous imprisonment without fine, modifying the sentence awarded by the trial court u/s 302 IPC. 

Thereafter the convict moved the Supreme Court having the same grievance that the High Court did not consider his juvenility plea and the same was dismissed on the ground that there is no modification to purview the judgment under CrPC.   

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