Delhi High Court: This Revision Petition was filed under Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (‘CrPC’) to impugn the order of July 2016 passed by the trial court, wherein the trial court found no authentic document on record which could give clear indication about actual date of birth of the prosecutrix, which was alleged to be about 16 years of age. Sudhir Kumar Jain, J.*, held that the trial court had rightly relied upon the Aadhaar card to ascertain the age of prosecutrix as per mandate of Section 94 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (‘JJ Act, 2015’), which reflected the date of birth of the prosecutrix as 01-01-1994.
The case arose out of FIR registered under Sections 363, 366, 366-A, 376 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and under Sections 4, 6 of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (‘POCSO’). The complainant stated that her daughter, namely “R” to be aged about 16 years, was found to be missing in September 2015, and appeared to have left the house without informing any other person. The complainant suspected the respondent as the person who had taken away “R”. During investigation it was revealed that “R” got married with the respondent in September 2015 and had also refused to undergo medical examination. The statement of “R” was also recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC wherein she stated that she had left with the respondent out of her own free will and after getting married to him, she established a relation with him. “R” also stated her year of birth as 1994 and was aged about 21 years. The trial court did not find enough evidence which could indicate the commission of alleged offences against the respondent and discharged him for offences in the case.
The Additional Public Prosecutor on behalf of the petitioner argued that the trial court had erred in relying upon the Aadhaar Card and without resorting to Section 94 of the JJ Act. It contended that as per the documents collected during the investigation from the concerned school, the prosecutrix was a minor at the time of commission of the offence. Whereas the counsel for the respondent argued that the age of the prosecutrix as appeared in the school record was not based on any birth certificate issued by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (‘MCD’) or any other statutory authority.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court relied on P. Yuvaprakash v. State Rep. by Inspector of Police, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 846, wherein it was observed that “wherever the dispute with respect to the age of a person arises in the context of her or him being a victim under the POCSO Act, the courts have to take recourse to the steps indicated in Section 94 of the JJ Act. The three documents in order of which the JJ Act required consideration was that the concerned court must determine the age by considering the following documents:
the date of birth certificate from the school, or the matriculation or equivalent certificate from the concerned examination Board, if available; and in the absence thereof;
the birth certificate given by a corporation or a municipal authority or a panchayat;
and only in the absence of (i) and (ii) above, age shall be determined by an ossification test, or any other latest medical age determination test conducted on the orders of the Committee or the Board.”
The Court noted that in the present case, the Investigating Officer did not collect any birth certificate from the school of the prosecutrix or birth certificate issued by MCD or any other statutory authority or panchayat. Further, the Court opined that the trial court had rightly observed that the date of birth of the prosecutrix as appearing in the school record was not based on birth certificate issued by MCD or any other statutory authority and in the absence of these documents, the trial court had rightly relied upon the Aadhaar card to ascertain the age of prosecutrix as per mandate of Section 94 of the JJ Act, which reflected the date of birth of the prosecutrix as 01-01-1994. Thus, the Court disposed of the present petition and held that the impugn order of the trial court did not call for any interference.
[State (NCT of Delhi) v. X, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5557, decided on 04-09-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: Mr. Utkarsh, Advocate
For the Respondent: Ms. Sunita Arora and Mr. Krishan Kumar, Advocates
*Judgement authored by — Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain