Claim juvenile at any stage

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Question From: Criminal Law

Could a juvenile accused claim his juvenility at any stage of proceeding?

A fact that accused was juvenile at the time of commission of offence is most important fact. This fact can be raised at any stage of criminal proceeding. Trial, appeal and revision are the stages of criminal proceeding and accused can take plea of juvenility at any stage.

It does not matter that it was not raised in trial and first time taken in appeal or revision proceeding. If sentence is passed against the accused in absence of the fact that accused was juvenile, accused can take plea of juvenility in appeal against the sentence.

If sentenced is passed and accused has been in jail for many years, he can file appeal, revision or file Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court and take his plea of juvenility. Maximum imprisonment is prescribed for juvenile offender is of three years.

In Upendra Pradhan v. State of Orissa (2015) SCC, it is held by the Supreme Court that:

“The plea can be raised before any Court and at any point of time…… we will look into the present petition keeping in mind the juvenility of the accused appellant at the time of commission of the crime….. it has been brought to our notice that the appellant has undergone about 8 years in jail.

The appellant falls within the definition of “juvenile” under Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Act, 2000. Upendra Pradhan has undergone almost 8 years of sentence, which is more than the maximum period of three years prescribed under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000. Thus, giving him the benefit under the Act, and appellant be released forthwith.”

This similar view is taken by the Supreme Court in Ram Narain vs State of Uttar Pradesh (2015) SLP 1446/2004 in this case accused was undergoing sentence for 10 years and he raised plea of juvenility first time before Supreme Court through SLP.

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