Equivalent Citation: 2015(2)RCR(Criminal)902,2015 ALLMR(cri)3713 SC
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Criminal Appeal No. 576 of 2015 (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 6366/2014)
Decided On: 06.04.2015
Appellants: Basant Sharma
Respondent: State of Bihar
Respondent: State of Bihar
Hon'ble Judges/Coram:Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana, JJ.
Criminal - Juvenility - Determination thereof - Section 376 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Present appeal filed against order whereby, Appellant was convicted for offence punishable under Section 376 of Code - Whether Appellant was juvenile on date of occurrence and his conviction was valid - Held, admit card produced by Appellant was verified by concerned Authorities - Evidence on record proved Appellant being juvenile on date of occurrence - Evidence of prosecutrix was sufficient to prove guilt of Appellant - Medical evidence on record was conclusive - As per precedent, conviction was affirmed - Matter was remanded to Juvenile Justice Board for consideration of punishment - Appeal disposed off. , and
1. Leave granted. The challenge in this appeal is against the order dated 10th February, 2014 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Patna in Criminal Appeal No. 245 of 2002 by which the conviction of the Appellant Under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 has been maintained and the sentence imposed by the trial Court to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 10 years has been reduced to a period of 7 years by the High Court. The accused Appellant admittedly is in custody for over two years.
2. The only issue agitated before us is that on the date of the occurrence i.e. 6th March, 1999 the Appellant was a juvenile as his date of birth recorded in the admit card issued by the Bihar School Examination Board, Patna for the Annual Secondary School Examination-1997 is 20th November, 1981.
3. Though the aforesaid question was not raised at any earlier stage, the same would not foreclose the entitlement of the Appellant to raise the same before us in the present appeal.
4. The admit card produced by the Appellant in support of his claim of date of birth has been verified by the Bihar School Examination Board, Patna. By communication dated 20th February, 2015 addressed to the Registry of this Court by the Secretary, Bihar School Examination Board, Patna, the contents of the admit card including the date of birth of the Appellant has been certified to be correct.
5. An objection has been raised on behalf of the State that an admit card issued by the Board is not one of the documents mentioned in the Bihar Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2003 for the purpose of determining the question as to whether the accused Appellant is juvenile.
6. We have considered the matter including the objections raised on behalf of the State and it is our considered view that the admit card having been duly verified and authenticated by the Board itself the same can be acted upon as a safe and reasonable basis for arriving at the conclusion that the date of birth of the accused Appellant is 20th November, 1981 and that he was a juvenile on the date of the occurrence i.e. 6th March, 1999.
7. In view of our above conclusion on the sole issue raised in the case and following the ratio laid down in Jitendra Singh alias Babboo Singh and Anr. v. State of Uttar Pradesh MANU/SC/0962/2010 : (2013) 11 SCC 193, the conviction of accused Appellant Under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is upheld. In this regard we would like to make it clear that while holding the accused-appellant to be guilty of the offence in question we have considered the evidence of the prosecutrix as well as the medical evidence on record, despite the sole contention raised before us being in respect of the age of the accused.
8. The matter will now have to be remanded to the Juvenile Justice Board for consideration of the punishment that the accused Appellant will have to suffer under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The Juvenile Justice Board will take an appropriate decision in the matter within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. Until the Board decides the matter, as directed in terms of the present order, the accused Appellant shall remain in custody. The appeal is disposed of in the above terms. Consequently, all pending applications are also disposed of.