The Bombay High Court has granted bail to a Juvenile who has been accused of gangraping a minor. The Court observed that the applicant-juvenile responded positively to the rehabilitative efforts during his stay in the Observation Home.

"The applicant has positively responded to the rehabilitative efforts, during his stay in the Observation Home, which is in tune of the Act of 2015. He deserves to be reunited and restored with his family and it would be in his best interest so that he can develop himself with full potential.", the Bench of Justice Bharati Dangre noted.

The applicant was arrested in the year 2020 along with five adults in connection with the offences under Sections 376-D, 376(1)(n), 354, 354-D, 114, 509, 506 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 6, 8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

The bail application of the said Juvenile was rejected twice by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).

As he was above the age of 16 years on the date of commission of the alleged offence, a preliminary assessment was conducted by JJB under Section 15 and the case of the applicant was transferred for trial before the Children's Court under Section 18(3) of the Act of 2015.

The Special Court had also rejected his bail application on the ground that if released on bail, he may contact the victim and may harm her and also on the ground that there is no permanent place of residence for him in Mumbai.

Aggrieved, the applicant approached Bombay High Court seeking his release.

Advocate Maharukh Adenwala appeared for the applicant-juvenile, Advocate Saveena Bedi for the Intervenor/the father of the victim girl and A.P.P. Takalkar appeared for the State.

The High Court noted thus "It is not in dispute that the applicant is a "child" and though a serious attempt is made on behalf of the counsel for the complainant to submit that the offence of which he is accused, is a heinous offence, I see no provision in the Act, which would dilute the effect of Section 12, which contains a provision of mandatory nature to release the child/juvenile on bail, except when a satisfaction is recorded by virtue of a proviso appended to sub-section (1) of Section 12, which would not justify his release."

The Court observed that the accusations faced by the applicant-juvenile were serious however the Court held that he must also derive the benefit of being a 'child', despite he being tried as an adult.

The Court further expressed that the reasons recorded by the JJB on two occasions and by the Special Court, while rejecting his bail application did not justify its existence, as the statements recorded therein were not factually correct.

"…by invoking principle of repatriation and restoration to the same socioreconomic and cultural status that he was in, before commission of alleged crime, with no specifc reason being traced out as to why he shall not be denied to repatriation and restoration, he deserves his release on bail under Section 12 of the Act.", the Court held.

Cause Title- Sandeep Ayodhya Prasad Rajak, v State of Maharashtra

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