[READ JUDGMENT] ALL HC: Bail should invariably be granted to a Juvenile accused alleged to be in conflict with law

A Single Judge of Allahabad High Court Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta delivered  Judgment in the case of Sanjay Chaudhary vs State of U.P. and Anr. (Criminal Revision No. 182 of 2020), wherein the revisionist filed a revision petition under Section 102 of Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015through his father, natural guardian for being enlarged on bail in Case Crime No.186 of 2019 u/s 363, 366, 376, 342 IPC and Section 3/4 Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012, P.S. Thodhibari, district Maharajganj.

The Juvenile Justice Board, Maharajganj by order dated 29.11.2019 in Bail Application No.76 of 2019 had rejected the bail application. The Sessions Judge, Maharajganj by order dated 20.12.2019 in Criminal Appeal No.62 of 2019 had also dismissed the appeal upholding the order passed by the Juvenile Justice Board. Feeling aggrieved b theses orders the revisionist approached the High Court.

Facts:

A First Information Report was lodged on 14.9.2019 at 16:40 hour by opposite party no.2 Virendra Chaudhary alleging that on 22.8.2019 between 4-5 hour, the revisionist enticed away his minor daughter Km. Gunja aged 16 years; that when he went to the house of the revisionist to complain to his parents, they abused him and also threatened to kill him; that he made serious attempts to search out his daughter, but when she could not be found, he lodged the First Information Report in question. The police got the statement of the victim recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C. on 5.10.2019, in which she stated that she was married to one Sonu in May, 2016; that her gaunah had not taken place; that the accused belongs to her village; that the accused took her to his bua’s place at Nautanava; that they kept roaming from one place to another for about 10-15 days; that the accused established physical relationship with her; that she was released only after her father lodged the First Information Report. The police submitted charge sheet against the revisionist u/s 363, 366, 376, 342 IPC and Section 3/4 Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012. The Juvenile Justice Board, after taking evidence, by order dated 19.11.2019, declared the accused a juvenile in conflict with law as envisaged under Section 2 (13) of the Act.

Submissions:

  1. The revisionist and the prosecutrix were in love with each other. She was married with one Sonu against her will; 
  2. she wanted to marry the revisionist and they had also applied before the Marriage Officer, Maharajganj for court marriage;
  3. The relationship between them was consensual
  4. The prosecutrix is major aged about 20 years; 
  5. The Husband of the prosecutrix had applied for divorce by filing Suit No.491 of 2019 Sonu Chaudhary Vs. Smt. Gunja Devi on 11.10.2019 in the court of Principal Judge, Family Court, Maharajganj on the ground of illicit relationship with the revisionist. 
  6. There was no reliable evidence that may bring the case of the juvenile revisionist within the exceptions carved out under Section 12 (1) of the Act
  7. Only evidence was the report of the District Probation Officer, which was in favour of the revisionist;
  8. Juvenile Justice Board ignored the statement of the neighbours recorded by the District Probation Officer in not relying on the said report and thus, committed a manifest error of law
  9. The appellate court committed the same mistake and without referring to any evidence held on pure conjectures, that the release of the revisionist on bail would defeat the ends of justice.

The Court held

A close reading of the Section 12 of Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015  reveals that bail should invariably be granted to a juvenile accused alleged to be in conflict with law unless his case falls under one of the exceptions engrafted by the proviso to sub-section (1). In other words, a bail to a juvenile accused shall not be granted “if there appear reasonable ground for believing that the release is likely to bring him into association with any known criminal or expose him to moral, physical or psychological danger or that his release would defeat the ends of justice. It is the burden of the prosecution to bring such material on record. In the absence of such material, the bail cannot be rejected on assumptions.

The Court further observed that there is nothing adverse against the revisionist in the social enquiry report submitted by the District Probation Officer. In fact, this report is more or less in favour of the revisionist. The Juvenile Justice Board has committed error in discarding the report of District Probation Officer on the sole ground that the said report is not based on testimony of any person. However, the same does not appear to be correct. Alongwith the said report, there is joint statement of the neighbours.

The entire approach of the courts below is wholly erroneous in law, consequently, the impugned orders dated 29.11.2019 passed by the Principal Judge, Juvenile Justice Board and the appellate order dated 20.12.2019 are hereby quashed.

Ultimately the Court granted Bail to the revisionist Sanjay Chaudhary be released on bail on his father Radhey Shyam Chaudhary executing a personal bond of Rs.50,000/-

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