Punjab and Haryana High Court dismisses the order of the Magistrate; Only Juvenile Justice Board to pass orders where there is ‘Juvenile in conflict with law’

Punjab and Haryana High Court

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While dealing with an issue on joint proceedings, Vinod S. Bhardwaj, J., held that a proceeding where there is ‘Juvenile in conflict with law’ with an adult the proceedings cannot be done jointly.

The petition was filed under Section 482 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’) seeking quashing of order, passed by Magistrate, vide which the petitioner was declared as proclaimed offender. The bench observed that in terms of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (‘JJ Act’) order can only be passed by the Juvenile Justice Board (‘JJ Board’) and not by the Magistrate.

Facts:

The FIR was registered under Sections 323, 325, 506 of Penal Code, 1860 alleging that the petitioner was one of the Polling Agent at the time Panchayat Elections where a fight occurred between him and the complainant which was however settled by the respectable persons of both the sides. But the same day, while the complainant was present in his house, 20-25 people came on various vehicles carrying weapons and caused injuries. The petitioner was allegedly armed with a kirpan and is alleged to have participated in the commission of the offence along with other co- accused.

Arguments:

The counsel for the petitioner pointed out that this incident took place on 19-07-2013 and the date of birth of the petitioner is 19-02-1998 which was confirmed through his passport. Hence, it was contended that as the petitioner was less than 15 years of age on the date of alleged incident, he has been falsely implicated. On investigation, the petitioner was found innocent and was not charged by the Investigating Agency.

Still, the non- bailable warrant was issued against the petitioner on 13-10-2018 and was received back on 25-10-2018 furnishing that he was not found at his address. It was contended that the proclamation of the petitioner was affixed on 15-12-2018 adjourning the case until 18-01-2019. As the mandatory period of 30 days came to an end and then the petitioner was declared as proclaimed offender.

Issue:

Whether any joint proceedings can be carried out where a Juvenile and adult are accused of an offence?

Observation and Analysis:

The Court noted that as far as the order of proclamation is concerned, the mandatory period of 30 days is prescribed under Section 82 CrPC had not lapsed.

The Court observed that the factual aspect is not in dispute that the publication of the proclamation was affected on 15-12-2018 and the mandatory period of 30 days had not elapsed on 21-12-2018 and the case was adjourned solely for the said reason to 18-01-2019 when the order was issued.

It was observed by the Court as the offence in question was committed in 2013, the provisions of the JJ Act, 2000 as amended were applicable and the petitioner, who was less than 15 years of age on the date of the incident, would fall under the definition of ‘Juvenile in conflict with law’.

It was also observed that there can be no joint proceedings of a juvenile and other offenders as per Sections 2(k), 2(l), 2(p), 15 and 18 of the JJ Act, 2000. Therefore, only the JJ Board could pass any orders under Chapter II of the JJ Act, 2000. Accordingly, the Court held that the order passed by the Magistrate declaring the petitioner as the proclaimed offender was without jurisdiction.

Observing the above stated reasons, the Court allowed the petition and set aside the impugned order vide which the petitioner was declared as proclaimed offender.

[Sadhu Singh v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 1784, decided on 06-07-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. S.S. Rangi, Advocate, Counsel for the Petitioner;

Mr. Amarjit Kaur Khurana, DAG, Punjab, Counsel for the Respondents;

Mr. Ramanpreet Singh, Advocate.

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