Aadhaar Cannot Be Considered As Proof Of Date Of Birth Of Accused Under Juvenile Justice Act- Kerala HC
The Kerala High Court observed that under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, an Aadhaar card cannot be considered as a document of proof of the date of birth of an accused.
The Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas observed that "if there is a certificate from the school or the matriculation or equivalent certificate from the examination Board concerned that specifies the date of birth, the said document alone is acceptable as proof of age of the accused under section 94(2)(i) of the JJ Act, 2015, who claims to be a child in conflict with the law."
In this case, the petitioner was accused of committing rape on a victim aged 13 years, after kidnapping her from her mother's custody and a case for offences under sections 366A, 376 and 376(1) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, apart from sections 3(a) and 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 has been registered. The accused filed the bail application under section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, contending that he is only 16 years in age and thus, is liable to be treated as a child and could not have been arrested by the Investigating officer.
Advocates Vishnu Babu, Aswini Shankar, P. Yadhu Kumar, and Swetha K.S. appeared on behalf of the petitioner and contended that as per the Aadhaar card, petitioner's date of birth is January 2nd, 2006 and therefore, he is required to be treated only as a child in conflict with the law. It was also submitted that the date of birth certificate issued by the Department of Health Services, State of Assam, also shows his date of birth as that on the Aadhar card.
Public Prosecutor M.K. Pushpalatha appeared on behalf of the respondent and submitted that the dispute on age is without any basis as the investigating officer had obtained the transfer certificate issued by the school specifying his date of birth as February 13th, 2003, therefore, the petitioner cannot be treated as a child in conflict with law as he was 19 years of age. It was also submitted that the date of birth on the Aadhaar card cannot be relied upon, as under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the date of birth is not made conclusive.
The Court observed that as per Section 94 of the Act, the age of the child should be determined under three modes-
- by reference to a certificate issued by the school or the matriculation or equivalent certificate, specifying the date of birth of the child.
- If such a certificate is not available, then the date of birth can be determined by reference to the birth certificate issued by a local authority like a Panchayat, Municipality or Corporation.
- If both the documents are not available then the age of the child has to be determined on the basis of an ossification test or other latest medical age determination test to be conducted.
Therefore, if a certificate from the school is available that specifies the date of birth, that alone can be looked into for the purpose of identifying the date of birth of the alleged child and the birth certificate issued by the Government Health Department of Assam cannot be taken into the reckoning for the purpose of determination of the age of a child.
The Court held that the petitioner was prima facie found to be above 18, and therefore, the investigating officer was justified in treating the petitioner as an adult.
Accordingly, the Bail application was dismissed.
Cause Title- Sofikul Islam v. State of Kerala