The Patna High Court directed the Juvenile Justice Board to reassess an Accused's age as it noted that the medical report did not provide the upper extremity limit.

The Court disposed of a Revision Petition filed by the father of the deceased victim challenging the order of the Appellate Court that considered the Accused as a minor.

The Court emphasized the necessity for an upper extremity limit in the medical report for a comprehensive determination.

The Bench of Justice Rajeev Ranjan Prasad observed, “in absence of upper extremity limit provided in the medical report of the Medical Board, it would not have been possible for the Board to take an appropriate view of the matter”.

Advocate Rajesh Roy appeared for the Petitioner, Advocate Gaurav Prakash appeared for the Respondent and Additional Public Prosecutor Yogendra Kumar appeared for the State.

A Revision Petition was filed by the father of the deceased victim seeking to overturn the order of the Additional District and Sessions Judge-I, which set aside the order of the Juvenile Justice Board. The Board had declared the Respondent an adult based on a Medical Board's assessment of age in a case involving offenses under Sections 302 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The Respondent claimed juvenile status, presenting a birth certificate, and the Board's order was reversed by the Appellate Court, applying Rule 12(3)(b) of the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007. The Appellate Court considered the Respondent’s age, leading to the dismissal of the application.

The Court noted discrepancies in the age determination process conducted by the Juvenile Justice Board and the Appellate Court. The Board had relied on a vague X-ray report showing the age of Respondent as 'above twenty years' without providing an upper extremity. The Court criticized the lack of expert evidence and failure to inquire as required by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act).

The Court noted that the Appellate Court had considered the lower side of the age without appreciating the complexities. The Court emphasized the importance of an appropriate examination of expert evidence for age determination.

The Court rejected the petitioner's argument that Rule 12(3)(b) of the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007 would be applicable in this case. The Court noted that the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007 (Rules) have been repealed, and the new scheme under the JJ Act, with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016 (Model Rules) and the Bihar Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules of 2017 (Bihar JJ Rules) in force, governs age determination. The Court emphasized that, under the framework, the benefit of one year of age on the lower side is not available.

Therefore, the Court held that the impugned orders should be set aside, directing the Juvenile Justice Board to determine the age of the Respondent afresh. This should be done by seeking the opinion of a Medical Board constituted by the Civil Surgeon, Gopalganj, with experts from all relevant departments.

The Court instructed that the age determination should be carried out through an appropriate inquiry following the law within three months from the date of receiving/producing a copy of this order.

Accordingly, the Court disposed of the Revision Petition.

Cause Title: Abhay Kumar Singh v The State of Bihar

Click here to read/download Judgment