The Special leave petition challenging the judgment of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad high Court, filed by Keshav Ram and Ram Kuber was dismissed, albeit in the case of co-accused Satya Deo@ Bhoorey notice was issued on the plea of juvenility. The impugned judgment had confirmed the conviction of  Keshav Ram, Ram Kuber and Satya Deo by the trial court for the offence under section 302 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal code, 1860 and the order of sentence directing them to undergo imprisonment for life. Leave was granted in the case of Satya Deo and the trial court was directed to conduct an inquiry to ascertain if Satya Deo was a juvenile on the date of occurrence on the basis of material which would be placed on record.

Pursuant to the directions, the First Additional District and sessions Judge, Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh has conducted an inquiry and submitted the report. As per report, the date of birth of Satya Deol is 15.4.1965. Accordingly, he was 16 years 7 months and 26 days of age on the date of commission of the offence. The report relies on the Transfer Certificate issued by Ram Narayan Singh Inter College, ramnagar Khajuri, bahraich and the Admission Register of Primary School which documents were proved by Sh. Krishn Deo, Clerk at ram Narayan Singh Inter College, ramnagar Khajuri, Bahraich and Smt. Anupam Singh, in –charge head-mistress of Primary School, Pairi, respectively. Further, Satya Deo had appeared in class 10 examination and his date of birth as recorded in the gazette relating to this exam.

The report states that the complainant had died and consequently notice was served on the heirs of the complainant, who did not appear before the First additional district and session’s judge, bahraich. The prosecution had not led any evidence. The date of birth of Satya Deo is undisputed and not challenged before us. Notwithstanding this finding, the First additional district and sessions judge Bahraich has observed that the Satya Deo was not a juvenile as per the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 as he was more than 16 years of age on the date of commission of offence.

The conundrum is in light of the definition of juvenile under the act which was below sixteen years in case of a boy and below eighteen years in case of girl on the date of boy or girl is brought for first appearance before the court or the competent authority whereas the 2000 Act as noticed does not distinguish between a boy or a girl and a person under a age of eighteen years is a juvenile. Further, under the 200 Act the age on the date of commission of the offence if the determine factor.

It is thus well settled that in terms of Section 20 of the 2000 Act, in all cases where the accused was above 16 years but below 18 years of age on the date of occurrence, the proceeding pending in the court would continue and be taken to the logical end subject to an exception that upon finding the juvenile to be guilty the court would not pass an order of sentence against him but the juvenile would be referred to the board for appropriate orders under the 2000 Act.

Following the aforesaid ratio and the legal position elucidated above, while we uphold the conviction of Satya Deo, we would set aside the sentence of life imprisonment. We could remit the matter to the jurisdiction of the board for passing appropriate order under section 15 of the 2000 Act including the question of determination and payment of appropriate quantum of fine and affirmative or negative comments either way on the direction under section 15 pf the 2000 act.

Jail authorities were directed to produce satya deo before the Board within seven days from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment. The Board shall then pass appropriate order regarding detention and custody and proceed thereafter to pass order under the 2000 Act. The appeal filed filed by Satya Deo was partly allowed in the aforesaid terms and all the pending applications are disposed of.

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