Giving primacy to matriculation and school-leaving certificate over medical reports for determining the age of a juvenile, the Supreme Court has ruled that medical examination should be resorted to only in the absence of such documentary proofs.
The ruling came from a bench headed by justice P Sathasivam, which allowed an appeal filed by Shah Nawaz against his prosecution in a murder case.
Relying on holding that the accused was a minor at the time of the offence, the court quashed murder charges against him.
The UP police had registered an FIR against Nawaz and three others on June 4, 2007, on a complaint filed by Khatizan, widow of the deceased. The Juvenile Justice Board ruled that Nawaz cannot be tried for the murder as he was a juvenile on the date of the offence, and his date of birth was June 18, 1989, as per his school certificate.
But in January 2009, the sessions court directed his prosecution after relying upon a medical report which stated that he was above 18 years. The Allahabad HC dismissed his plea in December 2010.
However, the SC said the medical examination of a person to determine the juvenile status can be resorted to only in the absence of other relevant materials such as school transfer or matriculation certificate.
"The additional sessions judge and the high court committed an error in taking a contrary view, the SC said restoring the decision of the Board.
"We are also satisfied that Rule 12 of the Rules which was brought in pursuance of the Act describes four categories of evidence which have been provided in which preference has been given to school certificate over the medical report," it said.