Detecting shocking violation of law, the Delhi high court on Tuesday directed the Tihar jail authorities to free a Bangladeshi youth languishing there for almost 12 years, when as per law the maximum he could be sentenced to was three years.
From a bone-tissue test done at Aiims following his plea that he was underaged when the robbery-cum-murder he was convicted of was committed on May 7, 1999, the court found that the boy was indeed a juvenile. He was in jail ever since his arrest in August 1999.
As per the Juvenile Justice Act, maximum a juvenile — a person up to 17 years old — can be imprisoned is three years for any crime, including murder.
The trial court had sentenced him to life imprisonment presuming that he was above 18, and an adult. Suhas, a migrant, had no one to help him. He had no family members in Delhi. It was a lawyer Ajay Verma whom the Delhi high court appointed as a legal aid, fighting the case for free, who defended him.
"There are several cases in Tihar jail of those who committed crimes as children languish for more than their maximum term. Many of them have suicidal tendencies. As per rules after three years, they are to be subjected to reformative process," said Verma.
Recently in another case the high court ordered Delhi government to pay a compensation of R5 lakh to a juvenile jailed for eight years in similar circumstances.
Said a bench headed by justice BD Ahmed ordering the release: “The medical board was of the considered opinion that the bone age of the convict was 25 years to 28 years. This means that on the date of the incident the appellant was between 14 and 17 years old.”