P&H HC | No primacy to matriculation certificate for proof of date of birth after enforcement of JJ Act, 2015

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Rajbir Sehrawat, J. dismissed the appeal on the ground that the decision taken by the lower court was in accordance with the amended provision of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007.

A petition was filed challenging the order in appeal whereby the application for declaring the petitioner as a juvenile was rejected.

An FIR was lodged against the petitioner under Sections 148, 149, 307, 506, 452 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and 25/54/59 of the Arms Act. In order to avoid full rigor of criminal law, the petitioner filed an application in order to declare him as a juvenile and thus to be tried by the Juvenile Justice Board. The application was adjudicated upon by JM- 1st Class and it was held that petitioner age was more than 18 years and therefore was not juvenile. Thereafter, an appeal was preferred before the Additional Session Judge in which the judgment was upheld. Thus, this application.

The lower court relied upon the date of birth of the petitioner as mentioned in the certificate where the petitioner took the first admission. The petitioner took admission in various schools in which different birth date were mentioned. The court refused to believe the date of birth mentioned in matriculation certificate which was different from that recorded in other schools as brought on Court file.

Ankur Lal, counsel for the petitioner argued that per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007, Rule 12 prescribed the procedure to be followed for determination of age, where accused claims to be juvenile.  The petitioner submitted that the as per the rule, the matriculation certificate was to be given preference and bought on record various judgment of the Supreme Court, which was brushed aside by the court on the ground that the other relevant material was not available in those cases.

Rituraj Singh and Gautam Dutt, counsel for the complainant submitted that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 has superseded the earlier provisions laid down in the Rules. A new provision has been enacted in the Act itself. According to the provision, the matriculation certificate no more enjoys the place of primacy, while determining the age of the accused. It had to be left to the court to assess the age of the person bought before it. Hence, both the Courts below have rightly declined the application moved by the petitioner.

The High Court opined that there was no substance in the argument raised by the petitioner. “Although the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 had given a place of primacy to the matriculation certificate, over the other proofs of date of birth of the accused, however, that provision stands replaced by the Act, 2015”. It was further submitted that the fact the petitioner was tried as juvenile in another case cannot taken as relevant factor as the no inquiry was held in that matter. The court pointed that “after leaving Govt. School, the petitioner has given different dates of birth for getting admission in different schools in different classes; which are found to not even commensurate with his age. Thus, no illegality was done by the lower court by giving more value to the date of birth as recorded in Government primary school.”[Gajab Singh v. State of Haryana, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 869, decided on 20-02-2019]

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