MADURAI: Holding that there is no prohibition to sentence a juvenile to life imprisonment for heinous crimes, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Friday confirmed the life sentence imposed on a juvenile for the kidnap, sexual assault and murder of a four-year-old girl in Dindigul in 2017.
“The bar under Section 21 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, is only for the imposition of life imprisonment ‘without the possibility of release’. It is not a complete or total bar for a court to impose life imprisonment if there is a possibility of release, either premature or on completion of 14 years of imprisonment,” a Bench of Justices PN Prakash and G Jayachandran explained.
The judges also echoed the concern raised by the SC last year on the need to frame guidelines which could be followed by the Juvenile Justice Board while making a preliminary assessment to decide if a juvenile aged between 16 and 18 should be tried as an adult.
“It appears expedient that appropriate and specific guidelines in this regard are put in place,” the judges said, adding that they leave it open to the union government and the National and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights to consider issuing such guidelines or directions.
The Bench passed the order in an appeal filed by the convict, Rajkumar, who was aged 17 at the time of committing the offence. He was tried as an adult by the Children’s Court and was sentenced to life
imprisonment in 2019, challenging which he moved the appeal.