Man let off in decades-old murder case after Supreme Court finds accused juvenile
A bench led by Justice AM Sapre noted that the accused, Kushwant Kumar Mehra, was a minor when he committed the murder and , extending him the benefit under the old Juvenile Justice law, set aside his conviction imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2008.Updated: Apr 20, 2019 01:02 IST
A 34-year-old man has been let off in a two-decade-old murder case after the Supreme Court found that he was a juvenile at the time of the crime.
A bench led by Justice AM Sapre noted that the accused, Kushwant Kumar Mehra, was a minor when he committed the murder and , extending him the benefit under the old Juvenile Justice law, set aside his conviction imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2008.
The HC had set aside the trial court finding acquitting him and his father in June 2000 in a case involving a murder committed in 1998. Mehra and his father, Ashok Kumar, were sentenced to life with a fine or Rs 5,000 each for the crime. However, the father died while their appeal to the SC was waiting to be heard. Before the Juvenile Justice Act was amended in 2015, all minors below the age of 18 were tried under the special law but not the Indian Penal Code which is meant for adult criminal offenders. On being found guilty the convicts were sent to an observatory home for reformation and not to jail. The changes in this law now allow an investigating agency to prosecute a juvenile aged between 16 and 18 years, who commits a heinous offence such as murder, under the IPC once it is concluded that he is mentally an adult. “In the light of the above legal position, it is evident that the appellant would be entitled to the benefit of the 2000 Act if his age is determined to be below 18 years on the date of commission of the offence,” SC held while reversing the concurrent findings of the two subordinate courts. The state contended that the accused had not raised the plea of his age before the trial court. But the bench brushed aside the objection and said the accused did furnish a birth certificate before the sessions court in which his age was noted as 17 years and 5 months. The prosecution, the court said, did not raise objection to the correctness of such a birth certificate.
It was also noticed by the top court that the state had not objected to the grant of bail to the accused in 2011 by the SC.
First Published: Apr 20, 2019 01:02 IST