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Mukarrab Etc. v. State of U.P. - (Supreme Court) (30 Nov 2016)

Ossification test cannot be regarded as conclusive for ascertaining age of a person

MANU/SC/1550/2016

Criminal

Present appeals by special leave impugns judgment passed by High Court, whereby appeal filed by Appellants was dismissed affirming their conviction under Section 302 read with Sections 148 and 149 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and also sentence of imprisonment for life under Section 302 of IPC and rigorous imprisonment for two years under Section 148 of IPC. Issue was relating to admissibility and reliability of medical opinion in age determination under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 vis-à-vis juvenility of accused at time of committing offences.

Age determination is essential to find out whether or not person claiming to be a child is below the cut-off age prescribed for application of Juvenile Justice Act. The issue of age determination is of utmost importance as very few children subjected to the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act have a birth certificate. As juvenile in conflict with law usually do not have any documentary evidence, age determination, cannot be easily ascertained, especially in borderline cases. Medical examination leaves a margin of about two years on either side even if ossification test of multiple joints is conducted.

In the present case, their physical, dental and radiological examinations were carried out. Radiological examination of Skull (AP and lateral view), Sternum (AP and lateral view) and Sacrum (lateral view) was advised and performed. As per medical report, there was no indication for dental x-rays since, both accused were much beyond 25 years of age. Therefore, age determination based on ossification test though may be useful is not conclusive. An X-ray ossification test can by no means be so infallible and accurate a test as to indicate the correct number of years and days of a person’s life.

In facts and circumstances of case, opinion of medical board in determining age of Appellants cannot be relied upon so as to give benefit under provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. In absence of other cogent evidence, plea of juvenility of Appellants is liable to be rejected. Special leave petitions qua other accused were already dismissed vide order. Hence, Appeals of Appellants were also dismissed.

Relevant : State of Madhya Pradesh v. Anoop Singh (2015) 7 SCC 773, Babloo Pasi v. State of Jharkhand and Anr. (2008) 13 SCC 133

Tags : AGE DETERMINATION   MEDICAL OPINION   ADMISSIBILITY  

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