The Supreme Court held that Section 94(2) of the JJ Act prioritises the date of birth certificate from a school at the highest pedestal whereas the “ossification test has been kept at the last rung to be considered” for determination of age.

The petitioner was arraigned as an accused for the offence of murder with three co-accused who were convicted by the trial Court under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC and were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life.

The Allahabad High Court had suspended the sentence awarded to the petitioner and released him on bail. However, upon appeal, the decision of the trial Court was affirmed and the petitioner was taken into custody.

Meanwhile, the High Court had directed the Juvenile Justice Board (Board) to determine the age of convicts who might have been juveniles at the time of the incident. The petitioner was subjected to a medical examination whereby the report of the Medical Board opined his age to be around 56 years. However, the petitioner claimed to have been around 15 years old at the date of the incident in 1982.

Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta observed, “Having minutely perused the inquiry report and the evidence led during the inquiry, we are of the opinion that the conclusions drawn by the learned Additional District and Sessions Judge that the actual date of birth of the accused petitioner is 2nd July, 1960 and the opinion of the Medical Board that estimation of age based on X-ray examination becomes uncertain after 25 years is apropos and deserves to be accepted.

AOR Rishi Malhotra represented the petitioner, while A.A.G. Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad appeared for the respondent.

The trial court had summoned the record from his Pre-Secondary School and recorded the evidence of school officials for determining the age of the petitioner.

A family register was produced by the petitioner arguing that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act) provides for such kind of evidence that can be produced for determination of age.

However, the inquiry conducted by the trial court concluded that the admission register and the transfer certificate from the petitioner’s school recorded the age of the petitioner to show that he was an adult at the time of the incident.

The Supreme Court relied on the trial court’s inquiry and accepted the opinion of the medical board which stated that the estimation of age through X-ray becomes uncertain after 25 years.

Section 94(2) of the JJ Act provides for the mode of determination of age. In the order of priorities, the date of birth certificate from the school stands at the highest pedestal whereas ossification test has been kept at the last rung to be considered, only in the absence of the criteria Nos. 1 and 2, i.e. in absence of both certificate from school and birth certificate issued by a Corporation/Municipal Authority/Panchayat” remarked the Court.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the writ petition.

Cause Title: Vinod Katara v. State of U.P. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 171)


Petitioner: AOR Rishi Malhotra; Advocates Utkarsh Singh and Jaydip Pati

Respondent: AAG Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad; AOR Vishnu Shankar Jain and Sanjeev Malhotra; Advocates Shashi Shekhar Kumar Prasad, Ananya Sahu, Akshay Kumar, Deepesh Singh, Pradeep Kumar Yadav, Vishal Thakre, Gopal Singh and Aryan P. Nanda

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