SC Spares Man Life in Jail, Lets Him Walk Free as He Was 7 Months Under 18 When He Committed Murder
Dharmendra had moved a plea in the apex court, claiming he was a juvenile and hence he could not have been convicted as an adult by the trial court in 1999.
A file photo of the Supreme Court. (PTI)
New Delhi: Twenty two years after the murder, a man has been set free by the Supreme Court because he was a minor at the time of committing the crime.
The top court came to the rescue of Dharmendra as it first recalled its order of 2014 when his appeal was dismissed along with another convict in the case.
Dharmendra had later moved a plea claiming he was a juvenile and hence he could not have been convicted as an adult by the trial court in 1999.
Subsequently, the court also agreed to examine his plea that he could not have been handed a life sentence.
The court then sought a report from the District and Sessions Judge, Guna, Madhya Pradesh, who was asked to conduct an inquiry into the juvenility of Dharmendra.
In his report, the sessions judge concluded that the convict’s date of birth is June 3, 1979. Therefore, as on November 1, 1996 when he committed the murder, his age was 17 years, 4 months and 29 days.
On receiving the report, the Supreme Court held: “It is clear that the appellant was therefore, not liable to be convicted under the Indian Penal code read with Code of Criminal Procedure. The appellant's case could have been dealt with only under the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.”
A bench headed by Justice SA Bobde noted that there is no dispute that Dharmendra’s case would be governed by the 2000 Act.
“Having regard to the provisions of the Act of 2000, we are of the view that the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to the appellant needs to be set aside and hereby set aside vide Section 16 of the Act of 2000,” ordered the bench.
It then noted that the convict cannot be placed under the supervision of a probation officer anymore since he has already served almost 5 years in jail and the Juvenile Justice Act provides that a delinquent cannot be placed under supervision of a probation officer for a period exceeding 3 years. The court the ordered immediate release of Dharmendra from the prison in MP’s Guna.
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