Ossification test done at the age of 55 cannot be relied upon to determine juvenility at the time of the crime: SC

On Thursday, the Supreme Court held that an ossification done on an accused at the age of fifty-five could not be solely relied upon to determine his juvenility in the absence of reliable medical evidence.

This observation was made by a Division Bench comprising Hon’ble Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Hon’ble Justice BR Gavai in an appeal filed by a murder convict that challenged an April 2020 judgement of Allahabad High Court that upheld his conviction.

Before the Court, the appellant contended that he was a juvenile on 20.07.1982 when the alleged offence was committed.

To support his contention, the appellant relied on his Aadhar card, family register of the panchayat, and the order passed by the Hon’ble High Court in 1982. That time, the High Court had granted bail to the accused based on a report filed by a Radiologist, which stated that the appellant was between 15-17 years of age at the time of the incident.

However, the Supreme Court stated the said medical report was not available, and also that grant of bail is not a conclusive determiner of age.

The Court further stated that an ossification test done at the age of 18 could determine if the appellant was a juvenile at the time of the alleged offence; however, if the ossification test is done at the age of 50, then it cannot be relied on.

According to the Bench, in the absence of any reliable evidence to determine the appellant’s age, the ossification test done in 2020 when the appellant was 55 years of age cannot be conclusive to declare the person a juvenile at the time of the incident. The Court further noted that the appellant’s application for a gun licence stated his age as 30.12.1961, which made him 21 years old at the time of the offence.

Lastly, the Court stated that it is not mandatory to examine all the witnesses who witnessed the incident, but the quality of evidence is important, not the quantity.

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