Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of a man who was incarcerated for over 17 years. His release orders came after the Juvenile Justice Board found that he was a minor at the time of offence.
A Division Bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Justice Abhay S Oka stated that a mandatory 3-year period in a special home under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act need not be served as the man had already spent a long period in jail.
“The certificate dated August 1, 2021 issued by Senior Superintendent of the concerned jail at Lucknow, records that till August 1, 2021, the applicant has undergone the sentence for 17 years and 03 days. Therefore, now it will be unjust to send the applicant to the Juvenile Justice Board,” the bench noted.
The man had committed an offence on January 8, 2004. He was serving life imprisonment in connection with a murder case.
He had raised a plea claiming that his date of birth is May 16, 1986 and therefore, he was a minor at the time of offence.
On January 31, 2022, the Apex Court had directed the Juvenile Justice Board to initiate an inquiry into the juvenility claims of the man.
JJB on 4th March 2022 confirmed that the applicant was a minor at the time of offence and his correct date of birth is 16th May 1986. The Board found that the applicant’s age at the date of commission of offence was 17 years 7 months and 23 days.
As the order was not challenged by the State, the top court noted that it is the final order.
The bench stated that under section 7A of the Act, an accused was entitled to raise the claim of juvenility before any court even after the final disposal of the case.