Allahabad High Court: In a criminal revision petition filed against the orders passed by the Juvenile Justice Board (‘JJB’) and the Special Judge, (POCSO), declining bail to a Juvenile for offences under Sections 376-AB, 506 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 5 or 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual offences Act, 2012 (‘POCSO Act’), Jyotsna Sharma, J. while dismissing the revision petition, said that to prevent ends of justice from being defeated and to achieve the aim and goal of the salutary act, he should be kept in observation home under strict supervision and should be extended to such reformatory services as are available under the scheme of the Act.

In the case at hand, the victim (9 years) used to go to the residence of the accused to study religious scriptures. On 05.12.2020 when she returned from there, she told her mother that the accused has sexually assaulted her and threatened her not to inform the police. On her medical examination, injuries on her private part were found. In her statement recorded under sections 161 and 164 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, she narrated the same story and corroborated the allegations as contained in the first information report.

The revisionist contended that the proviso to Section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and broader principles of law as applicable in the matters of bail to the juveniles have been ignored by JJB as well as the Special Judge as bail has been declined based on the nature of offence and the board as well as Special Judge have treated the case as falling within the exceptional circumstances as defined in proviso to Section 12(1) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 without having any material before them.

The Court relied on Om Prakash v. State of Rajasthan, (2012) 5 SCC 201, wherein the Court commanded the attention of the courts for taking a cautious approach where the accused under the guise of plea of being a minor attempted to take statutory shelter as provided under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, and said that although the observation of Supreme Court came in the background of the fact that the evidence about the age was of doubtful nature, however, the nature of the crime as being a material fact was brought into focus.

Further, the Court took note of Mangesh Rajbhar v. State of U.P. (2018) 2 ACR 1941, wherein it was held that “the bail prayer of the juvenile revisionist must be considered on the surrounding facts and circumstances and merely by declaration of being a juvenile does not entitle a juvenile in conflict with law to be released on bail as a matter of right” and of ‘X’ Minor v. State of U.P. Criminal Revision No. 1195 of 2022, wherein the Court took a view that the gravity of the offence as well as the merits of the matter may be of ample significance when the Court has to form an opinion whether case is one falling within the exceptions as envisaged under the proviso to Section 12(1) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.

The Court said that in this case a minor girl went as usual for religious teachings from a person, who in our society is supposed to be having even higher than usual moral standards of conduct. A person in whom she might have trusted as she would trust her own parents, sexually assaulted her and caused shock and trauma to her as well as her family. Further, this kind of violent sexual assault is an indicator that accused needs counselling by psychiatrist not only for his own betterment but also for the health of society. He needs to be extended services of reformatory and rehabilitatory nature so that he can move without posing danger to himself as well as to public and so that he can be brought back to mainstream.

The Court examined the social investigation report and said that the accused had not been to regular school and was uneducated and belonged to a very poor family. Thus, the Court opined that he must be given that kind of atmosphere as is required for his healthy physical and psychological growth. Further, prima-facie, it appears that he is in real need of intensive counselling, and he cannot be risked falling into the same environs of which he is the product.

[X v. State of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine All 771, decided on 22-11-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Counsel for Revisionist:- Advocate Brij Raj Singh;

Counsel for Opposite Party:- Government Advocate.

*Apoorva Goel, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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