New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ordered the release of a man who had been serving a life sentence for a murder conviction dating back to 2005. The man was 16 years and seven months old when the crime was committed, making him a juvenile under the law.
The man’s release comes after a May 2023 report from an additional sessions judge who was tasked with investigating the man’s claim of juvenility. The report confirmed the man’s date of birth as May 2, 1989.
The Supreme Court’s order stems from a plea filed by the man, seeking verification of his claim of juvenility and appropriate actions in accordance with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. According to the provisions of this act, the maximum period of custody for a juvenile is three years.
The man’s plea was first raised in his 2022 writ petition before the Supreme Court. The legal process had commenced in 2005, leading to the man’s conviction and life imprisonment, which was upheld by the trial court and the high court.
However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the man can no longer be held in custody, given the acceptance of the report from the II Additional Sessions Judge, Khammam, confirming the man’s status as a juvenile at the time of the offence. Consequently, the Court has directed the immediate release of the man.
The man’s release is a victory for the rights of juveniles in India. It sends a message that the law will not tolerate the arbitrary detention of juveniles. It also underscores the importance of ensuring that juveniles have access to fair and speedy justice.