Gurgaon school murder: Plea by victim's father rejected by SC – The Indian Express

The Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed appeals filed by the father of the Class II student, who was murdered, allegedly by a senior at a private school in Gurgaon in September 2017, and the CBI which probed the case, challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order which asked the Juvenile Justice Board to take a fresh call on whether the accused should be tried for the crime as an adult or juvenile.
A bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Vikram Nath upheld the October 11, 2018 order of the HC which set aside the Board’s “preliminary assessment” that the accused should be tried as an adult, as well as the order of the Additional Sessions Judge (Children’s Court) upholding the decision of the Board.
Taking into account the passage of time, the SC however left it “to the discretion of the Board or the psychologist who may be consulted as to whether any fresh examination would be of any relevance/assistance”.
Noting that the HC had directed fresh assessment to be conducted in six weeks, the judgement read, “Today, after three and a half years, we are not in a position to give an opinion as to whether any further test can be carried out at this stage as age of the child is now more than 21 years.”
Elaborating on the requirements of section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, the SC said that “in the present case, the only assistance taken is to get the mental IQ of the child. Beyond that, regarding the ability to understand the consequences and also the circumstances in which the alleged offence was committed, no report was called for from any psychologist”.
In case of heinous crimes committed by a juvenile above 16 years, section 15 of the 2015 Act requires the Board to conduct a “preliminary assessment with regard to his mental and physical capacity to commit such offence, ability to understand the consequences of the offence and the circumstances in which he allegedly committed the offence” to decide whether he/she should be tried as an adult or not, and that for this, it “may take the assistance of experienced psychologists or psycho-social workers or other experts”.
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It said that “the Board and the Children’s Court apparently were of the view that the mental capacity and the ability to understand the consequences of the offence were one and the same, that is to say that if the child had the mental capacity to commit the offence, then he automatically had the capacity to understand the consequences of the offence” and termed it a “grave error committed by them”.
The Board had relied on the report of a psychologist that the juvenile had an IQ level of 95 to direct that no further assessment was required and to conclude that he “had sufficient mental and physical capacity to commit the offence alleged against him and also he had the adequate ability to understand the consequences of the acts committed by him”.
The top court also agreed with HC’s conclusions that a reasonable opportunity was not given to the juvenile and copies of documents replied upon by the Board were not given to his counsel.
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