Punjab and Haryana High Court: Rajesh Bhardwaj, J., held that plea for anticipatory bail by a juvenile is not maintainable in law as there is no concept of arrest on apprehension regarding children in conflict with the law.
The petitioner, a juvenile had filed the instant petition seeking anticipatory bail with regard to FIR lodged against him under Section 8 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012 (POCSO), contending that he had been falsely implicated in case.
Whether petition under Section 438 of CrPC maintainable on behalf of a juvenile?
The moot question before the Court was the issue of the maintainability of the petition on behalf of a juvenile under Section 438 of CrPC. Section 10 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 Section 10 deals with the apprehension of the child alleged to be in conflict with the law and Section 12 pertains to bail to a person who is apparently a child alleged to be in conflict with the law.
The provisions of Section 12 would show that when any child in conflict with law is brought before a Board, such person notwithstanding anything contained in the CrPC or in any other law for the time being in force, be released on bail with or without surety; whereas the provisions of Section 438 CrPC are enumerated for granting the bail to the person who has apprehension of the arrest. The Bench stated that
“A reading of provisions of Section 438 CrPC vis-a-vis of relevant provisions of the Act would show that a juvenile cannot be arrested and thus, there is no question of apprehension of his arrest. Hence, the petition under Section 438 CrPC is not maintainable in case of a juvenile.”
Reliance was placed by the Court on the decision of Madras High Court in K. Vignesh v. State of T.N., 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 28442, wherein it had been held that,
“Had it been the intention of the Legislature, that a police officer should be empowered to arrest a child in conflict with law, the Legislature would have very well used the expression ‘arrest’ instead of using the expression ‘apprehend’ in Section 10 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015…the Legislature has, thus, consciously omitted to use the expression ‘arrest’ in Section 10 of the Act, which means that the Legislature did not want to empower the police to arrest a child in conflict with law. Therefore, the Legislature has empowered the police simply to apprehend a child in conflict with law and immediately, without any delay, cause his production before the Juvenile Justice Board…the proviso to Section 10 of the Act makes it very clear that in no case a child alleged to be in conflict with law shall be placed in a police lock-up or lodged in a jail. The Board has been obligated to send the child either to an observation home or a place of safety.”
Opining that a careful perusal of statutory provisions and the judicial precedents would show the intention of legislature in safeguarding the welfare of juvenile as apparent by Section 12, wherein it mandates the production of the child before the Board, the Bench stated that,
“The underlying purpose of the scheme appears to be that legislature wanted the personal interaction of the juvenile with the Board before arriving at a decision regarding his bail.”
On the other hand, the Bench observed that such a provision has no place under Section 438 CrPC and hence safeguard provided to a juvenile is automatically bypassed. Even otherwise the Act mandates the provision of granting the bail to a juvenile in a bailable or non-bailable offence notwithstanding anything contained in CrPC. Thus, it was held that the petition under Section 438 CrPC on behalf of the juvenile is not maintainable; therefore the petition was dismissed with the liberty to the petitioner to seek remedy in accordance with law.[X v. State of Haryana, CRM-M-21406 of 2021, decided on 05-07-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
Appearance before the Court by:
For the Petitioner: Manoj Tanwar, Advocate
For the State of Haryana: Manish Bansal, DAG, Haryana