Mumbai: A special court has set aside the decision of the juvenile justice board to try a 17-year-old, who was booked for sexually assaulting and impregnating his 15-year-old sister, as an adult. The court, designated under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, said the board did not consider factors such as the circumstances in which he committed the alleged offence. The teen is presently lodged at an observation home as per provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.
Challenging the board's order passed in August 2022, the child in conflict with law (CCL) had moved the sessions court through his mother. Giving the verdict on Tuesday, special judge Kalpana K Patil stated that the board’s order was “totally silent” on some factors. “Circumstance in which the child has allegedly committed the offence is the important factor to be considered at the time of preliminary assessment. While considering this aspect, factors relating to family, school, peer relationship, trauma, abuse, etc. are to be taken into consideration,” the order stated.
Court: Only because a child is not having any physical or mental abnormality...
Judge Patil further observed, “The ability of the child to understand the consequences of the offence does not mean that he is having knowledge or understanding of the immediate consequence. Instead his knowledge about social and legal consequences and the effect of his act on his personal relations are the important factors to be taken into consideration while passing the preliminary assessment order.”
The special court further stated that the object of preliminary assessment is to determine whether the CCL has committed a heinous offence and if he is having mental and physical capacity to commit such offence. The order read that assessment of mental capacity of the child to commit an alleged offence should be based on the minor's ability to make social decisions and judgments. It noted that on perusal of the preliminary assessment order, it appears that only because the mental health report and physical report of the minor is normal, he is supposed to be capable of understanding legal consequences. “Only because a child is not having any physical or mental abnormality, it cannot be presumed that he is capable of making social decisions,” the court stated.
Circumstance in which the child allegedly committed offence is important factor
Family, school, peer relationship, trauma, abuse, etc aspects needs to be considered
Child's ability to understand social, legal consequences should be factored in
It can't be presumed that a normal child is capable of making social decisions
Juvenile justice board order totally silent on these factors