Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: While deciding the instant petition challenging the order of the Sessions Court passed “in exercise of its revisional jurisdiction” under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, the Bench of Sanjay Dhar*, J., set aside the impugned order stating that under Section 102 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, revisionary power is vested with the High Court only. The Sessions Court or the Children’s Court has not been vested with such powers under the said Act. Thus, the applicability of provision relating to the revision i.e., Section 397 of CrPC has been ousted by Section 1 (4) of JJ Act, read with Section 5 CrPC as Juvenile Justice Act is a special legislation.

On 12-01-2021, while the victim lady aged about 65 years was walking on the roadside, she was overpowered by three accused persons and was gangraped. Accordingly, FIR under Sections 376-D, 366, 506, 323 and 212 IPC was registered, and investigation was set into motion. After conducting the investigation, the aforesaid offences were found established against 6 accused persons. Charge sheet against the adult accused persons were laid before the Principal Sessions Judge, Samba, whereas supplementary charge sheet against the petitioner, who happens to be a juvenile, was laid before the Juvenile Justice Board.

The juvenile filed an application for grant of bail before the Juvenile Justice Board and was granted interim bail by the Juvenile Justice Board. The respondents then moved an application for cancellation of the bail before the Board, but the said application was also dismissed by the Juvenile Justice Board. Both the orders came to be challenged by the respondent by way of a revision petition before the Principal Sessions Judge, Samba (Children’s Court) and vide the impugned order, the petition was allowed, and the orders passed by the Juvenile Justice Board were set aside.

Perusing the facts and the legal trajectory of the matter, the Court deemed it fit to notice the legal position of maintainability of the revision petition against an order granting bail by the Juvenile Justice Board.

Referring to Sections 101 and 102 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, the Court pointed out that any person aggrieved of the order of the Juvenile Justice Board has a right to prefer an appeal before the Children’s Court within a period of thirty days. Furthermore, the provisions states that any person aggrieved by an order of the Children’s Court has right to file appeal before the High Court in accordance with the procedure specified in the CrPC.

The Court noted that ‘the Children’s Court as per Section 2(20) of the Juvenile Justice Act means a Court established under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 or a Special Court under the POCSO Act 2002. In the absence of these special Courts, it means the Court of Sessions has the jurisdiction.’ However, the power of revision has been vested with the High Court and not the Sessions Court in terms of Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice Act. The Court held that the Sessions Judge either in the capacity of Sessions Court or Children’s Court has grossly fallen into an error by entertaining a revision petition against the order of the Juvenile Justice Board. “In fact, it has been specifically stated in the impugned order that revision petition is allowed. This clearly goes on to show that the learned Sessions Judge has, while passing the impugned order, exercised its revisional jurisdiction, which was not vested with her in terms of the provisions of the JJ Act. In view of the overriding effect of the provision of the JJ Act, the learned Sessions Judge could not have invoked the provisions of CrPC to exercise revisional powers”.

[Master X v. State of J&K, 2023 SCC OnLine J&K 163, decided on 10-03-2023]

*Judgment was written by Justice Sanjay Dhar.

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Petitioners- Rakesh Chargotra. Advocate;

Respondents- Vishal Bharti, Dy. AG.

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