In a bizarre case, the medical board constituted after a court order recently declared a murder-accused to be less than two years of age at the time of crime that was perpetrated in 1995 in Latehar district.
The jail records, however, show that the accused was 18 at the time of committing the crime.
Following the doctors’ report, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) also absolved Ramchandra Ganjhu from the murder charge, disposing off the case against him in 2016.
The glaring ambiguity in government records has raised two questions: How can a less than two-year old child be arrested and kept in jail and if he was a major at the time of arrest in 1995, then how did the medical board declare him 22-23 years old in 2016.
The medical board was constituted after the defence lawyers moved the Latehar court of additional district and sessions judge II in 2016, pleading the accused to be a minor at the time of crime and demanding assessment of his age by a doctors’ team.
“The manner in which the defence lawyer moved for age verification 21 years after the crime raised doubts. Our doubt was substantiated after the jail administration in a written report informed us that the accused had been 18 in 1995 when he was brought to jail by the police,” said public prosecutor Sudershan Manjhi.
“It’s beyond imagination that a child aged between one and two years can kill an elder with basuli, a sharp-edged rounded knife that is used for chopping off vegetables in rural homes. Secondly, how can police arrest and send to jail a minor?” wondered Manjhi.
Manjhi further said, “The court of principal district and sessions judge on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into our revision appeal filed against April 29, 2016 order of JJ Board absolving Ramchandra of all charges.”
A team from Chandwa police station had sent Ramchandra and his father to Latehar jail after arresting them on March 19, 1995, a day after they had allegedly killed their relative Tetra Ganjhu. The deceased was the uncle of Ramchandra. The deceased’s wife Puniya Devi had lodged a case against two unidentified persons and the next day police nabbed Ramchadra and his father Risha Ganjhu. Both families belonged to Chiro Toli, Main Tola in Chandwa police station of Latehar district.
Both came out on bail in July 1995. But, Ramchandra’s father died in course of trial. He then filed petition before the court for verification of his age, claiming himself a minor at the time of crime.