Shocked by the conviction of a juvenile only on the basis of a plea of guilt by his mother, the Bombay high court (HC) has ordered a suo motu revision of the judgment passed by the Juvenile Justice Board.
The convict and his two elder brothers had allegedly killed Rambhau Bhapkar on April 8, 1998, at Tandulwadi in Baramati. While the juvenile's case was put before the board in Pune, the other two brothers were tried at a sessions court in Baramati. One of them was convicted and the other was acquitted on February 27, 2004.
While the juvenile had recorded his plea claiming that he was not guilty of the offence on November 2, 2002, the board recorded his mother's plea on September 16, 2012. The thumb impression of the woman was taken on the plea written in English, stating that the juvenile had committed the offence inadvertently and he would not commit any offence in the future.
"Shockingly, on the basis of the mother's plea, the board proceeded to convict the juvenile under section 302 (murder) and section 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code without any trial," the division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Ashok Bhangale said.
The board had let off the juvenile on a fine of Rs1,000 and probation of good conduct for six months. The boy is now 27-year-old and is self-employed.
Disapproving of the manner in which the board handled the case, the judges said, "The entire proceeding adopted by the board appears to be foreign to law."
The hearing for the revision will be held on February 13.
The earlier proceedings were brought to the notice of the high court during the course of hearing on a petition filed by Nitin Mandlik, the juvenile's elder brother. Mandlik had approached the court challenging the state government's August 2012 order requiring him to undergo an imprisonment of 24 years, including remissions. Acting on the petition, the bench had directed the state government to reconsider Mandlik's plea. According to Mandlik's counsel Madhav Jamdar, his case was accordingly reconsidered and he was released after serving a term of 22 years and 8 months.