Can a 40-year-old man, convicted in a murder case, be tried afresh as a juvenile for the offence he committed in 1990 when he was just 16? Faced with the dilemma, the Supreme Court has sought the assistance of attorney general Mukul Rohatgi to help it find a proper answer to this peculiar question.
The court is caught in a catch-22 situation — whether to send the 40-year-old to a juvenile home/under parental care as the juvenile justice act bars imprisonment of a convicted juvenile or jail that could violate the law. A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra also wants Rohatgi to address on whether the “issue of juvenility” can be agitated at “any stage of the proceedings.”
The order comes on an appeal by the Uttarakhand resident demanding he be tried as a juvenile for a murder case registered against him 24 years ago. Convicted by the trial court and later by the high court, the man had petitioned in the SC against his conviction, seeking leniency on the ground he was a juvenile. The convict, who is on bail, never raised this plea earlier before the two lower courts.
The special law meant to deal delinquent juveniles prohibits jail of children found guilty of a crime. Petitioner’s counsel, senior advocate KTS Tulsi said, “Under the juvenile justice act, if a person is proved juvenile at the later stage of proceedings then the judgment delivered and the sentence imposed stands vitiated.”