The high court on Friday ordered the Delhi government to pay Rs. 5 lakh as damages to a juvenile, who has been languishing in jail for more than eight years after his conviction in a murder case.
According to law, a minor cannot be imprisoned for more than three years for any crime, including murder.
“The accused juvenile suffered incarceration for more than eight years, that is , nearly three times the maximum period prescribed under the (Juvenile Justice) Act,” a bench headed by Justice S Ravindra Bhat remarked.
The facts revealed an extremely disturbing picture, pointing to violation of the procedure established by the law and his illegal detention for five years, said the bench while noting that the boy was below 15 years of age at the time of a killing of man in Tis Hazari Court Complex in November 2001.
The trial court had sentenced the boy, along with another man, in 2004 without heeding to the boy’s defence that he was a juvenile at the time of the incident.
This failure was systematic because no one, including, the police, prosecution, counsel and the trial court, detected that the accused was a minor in conflict with the law, the bench said.
The fact that the convict, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, was a minor at the time of killing at the Tis Hazari Court canteen in November 2001, was determined after the high court had in August 2009, acting on the boy’s appeal against his conviction by the trial court, ordered examination of his age.
The incident dates back to November 11, 2001, when the boy, after having some drinks with two of his friends in Tis Hazari Court canteen, had an altercation with one of them who was strangulated to death by the boy and another accused, Subhash with a PVC pipe.
The boy, along with Subhash, was arrested the following day and sentenced to life by a trial court in October 2004. The Delhi high court, while ordering the release of the boy from jail, however, upheld the conviction of Subhash.