Supreme Court’s Ground-breaking Verdict Redefining Justice for Juveniles”






Facts of the Case

Pramila, the appellant, was convicted for offenses under Sections 302 and 201 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, by the Division Bench of the High Court of Chhattisgarh. The appellant, who was the second appellant before the High Court, was sentenced to life  imprisonment. During the appeal, the issue of juvenility was raised by the appellant, leading to the court directing the Sessions Court to conduct an inquiry into the matter. The learned 1st Additional Sessions Judge found that the appellant’s date of birth was 1st September, 1982, making her 17 years, 09 months, and 14 days old on the date of the offense, i.e., 15th June, 2000. The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (1986 JJ Act), was applicable as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (2000 JJ Act), was not in force at the time of the offense.


Legal Provisions:

Section 2(h) of the 1986 JJ Act defines a ‘juvenile’ as a boy who has not attained the age of sixteen years or a girl who has not attained the age of eighteen years. Section 21 of the 1986 JJ Act deals with the manner of dealing with juveniles. Section 22(1) of the 1986 JJ Act prohibits sentencing a juvenile to undergo imprisonment. Similar provisions are present in Section 16 of the 2000 JJ Act.


Issues Involved

Whether the appellant should be treated as a juvenile under the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, considering her age at the time of the offense? If the appellant is considered a juvenile, whether the sentencing under Sections 302 and 201 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, is valid?


Court’s Observation and Analysis

The court analyzed the findings of the Sessions Court, which established that the appellant was below 18 years at the time of the offense. Emphasis was placed on the fact that the incident occurred before the enactment of the 2000 JJ Act, making the 1986 JJ Act applicable. The court observed that under the 1986 JJ Act, the maximum action against a juvenile could be sending them to a special home, with a three-year minimum for a girl of sixteen years. Noting that the appellant had already undergone more than eight years of incarceration, the court allowed the appeal, quashing the previous judgments and canceling the bail bonds. The judgment highlighted the need to apply the appropriate juvenile justice provisions, leading to a different outcome for the appellant.



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Written by- Komal Goswami


Click to read the Judgement


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