Calcutta High Court: In a case involving a challenge to the judgment and order of the Additional Sessions Judge regarding a preliminary assessment conducted by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), a single-judge bench comprising of Bibhas Ranjan De,* J., set aside both the orders passed by the Additional Sessions Judge and the order of the JJB.
The Court directed the JJB to conduct a preliminary assessment strictly in compliance with the provisions of Section 15 of the JJ Act and to pass an order within the meaning of Section 18(3) of the JJ Act.
The instant matter revolves around the judgment and order dated 13-12-2017 passed by the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Raiganj, Uttar Dinajpur, which was issued concerning an order dated 17-10-2017 passed by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) Uttar Dinajpur at Raiganj.
The JJB, by its impugned order, declined the petitioner’s request for a preliminary assessment, however, the JJB decided to proceed with the case of the Juvenile involving an offense under Section 302, 201 and 34 of Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), presumably based on the preliminary inquiry report.
In the appeal, vide order dated 13-12-2017, the Additional Sessions Judge found that there was no substantial reason to deny the request for a preliminary assessment under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act). Still, he refused to transfer the case to the children’s court on the grounds of lacking the power or authority to infringe upon the jurisdiction of the JJB.
Aggrieved by the impugned order dated 13-12-2017, the petitioner preferred the present revision application challenging the same.
The petitioner contended that no preliminary assessment was actually conducted by the JJB under Section 15 of the JJ Act, and this was subsequently confirmed by the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge in appeal. It was further argued that the Additional Sessions Judge dismissed the appeal despite having substantial power under Section 101 of the JJ Act.
The opposite party 1 contended that the petitioner raised the issue of the absence of an assessment of the Juvenile’s age under Section 94 of the JJ Act in the revision application, which was indeed assessed by the JJB. The opposite party 1 referred to the preliminary assessment conducted by the JJB, emphasizing compliance with Section 15 of the JJ Act.
The State relied on the evidence collected during the investigation and contended that there were sufficient materials indicating the involvement of the CCL in the heinous offense punishable under Section 302 of IPC.
The Court observed that it is undisputed that the case at hand involved a heinous offense punishable under Section 302 of IPC, and it is also not disputed that the age of the Juvenile was more than 16 years.
The Court held that although the JJB conducted a preliminary assessment, it did not adequately assess the Juvenile’s mental and physical capacity to commit the offense, ability to understand the consequences, and the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense, as required by Section 15 of the JJ Act.
The Court set aside both the orders passed by the Additional Sessions Judge and the JJB, with a directive to the JJB to conduct a proper preliminary assessment in compliance with Section 15 of the JJ Act and make an order under Section 18(3) of the JJ Act.
The Court emphasized the importance of a proper preliminary assessment as required by the Juvenile Justice Act and set aside previous orders, directing the Board to conduct a valid assessment.
The Court disposed of the revision application with the aforementioned observations and directions.
[Mojibul Rahaman v. Baitul, 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 3311, order dated 05-10-2023]
*Judgment by Justice Bibhas Ranjan De
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Ayan Basu, Mr. Amit Roy, Mr. Sumit Routh, Counsel for the Petitioner
Mr. Binoy Panda, Mr. Subham Bhakat, Counsel for the State
Mr. Kaushik Chowdhury, Mr. Gaur Hari Das, Counsel for the Opposite Party 1