The Bombay High Court on Monday directed immediate release of a convict who was awarded life sentence despite him being a juvenile at the time of offence.
Gangaram Dandil was sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court on August 28, 2006, for a murder while committing dacoity in 2003.
At the time of offence, May 20, 2003, Dandil was around 14 years old.
As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, anyone who is a minor at the time of crime cannot be tried in a sessions court, and cannot be given punishment of imprisonment exceeding three years.
HC ordered his immediate release, if not wanted in another crime, as Dandil has already served six years. Such juveniles in conflict with law are kept in special homes and not in prison while under going their sentence, said Dandil’s lawyer Vijay Hiremath.
During his trial in the sessions court he did not raise the question of him being juvenile. When he was lodged at Kolhapur jail to serve his life sentence, he sent a letter stating that he was minor at the time of offence.
The HC in March had asked the government to carry out ossification test to determine his age. While confirming his conviction, the division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice R.G. Ketkar has modified his sentence from life to three years.
Dandil had filed an appeal against his conviction. But in view of the order on Monday, he withdrew it.