“Accused Was a Juvenile at the Time of Occurrence”: SC

The Supreme Court has set aside the life imprisonment sentence imposed on a person accused in a 1981 murder case observing that he was less than 18 years of age on the date of commission of offence, however, upheld the conviction, directed the Juvenile Justice Board to pass orders concerning detention as well as custody under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 Act.

Brief Facts

  • The case involves three Acts i.e. Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act of 2015.
  • Satya Deo and others were convicted by the Trial Court and were sentenced to life imprisonment. Their appeal was dismissed by Allahabad High Court.
  • The trial court was directed to conduct an inquiry to determine if Satya Deo was a juvenile on the date of occurrence i.e. 11.12.1981. The report filed before the Supreme Court showed that he was 16 years 7 months and 26 days of age on the date of commission of the offence i.e. 11.12.1981. Though, the report stated that Satya Deo was not a juvenile according to the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 as he was above 16 years of age on the date of commission of the offence.
  • The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by co-accused against Allahabad High Court judgment but issued a notice in the case of Satya Deo on the plea of juvenility.

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Considering the legal provisions, the Court observed:

This Court at this stage can decide and determine the question of juvenility of Satya Deo, notwithstanding the fact that Satya Deo was not entitled to the benefit of being a juvenile on the date of the offence, under the 1986 Act, and had turned an adult when the 2000 Act was enforced. As Satya Deo was less than 18 years of age on the date of commission of offence on 11.12.1981, he is entitled to be treated as a juvenile and be given benefit as per the 2000 Act.

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The Court further stated that “we uphold the conviction of Satya Deo, we would set aside the sentence of life imprisonment. We would remit the matter to the jurisdiction of the Board for passing appropriate order/directions under Section 15 of the 2000 Act including the question of determination and payment of appropriate quantum of fine and the compensation to be awarded to the family of the deceased. We make no affirmative or negative comments either way on the order/direction under Section 15 of the 2000 Act. 22. We would, accordingly, direct the jail authorities to produce Satya Deo before the Board within seven days from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment. The Board shall then pass appropriate order regarding detention and custody and proceed thereafter to pass order/directions under the 2000 Act.”

Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 860 OF 2019
Case Name: SATYA DEO @ BHOOREY vs. STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH
Coram: Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna

Also Read: In Temporary Bail have to Balance the Public Interest in the Enforcement of Criminal Justice with the Rights of the Accused: SC

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