Read Order: Harsh v. State Of Punjab

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 22, 2022: While dealing with a bail plea of an accused who was juvenile at the time of commission of the alleged offence, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the nature of the offence is not one of the factors on which bail may be granted or refused to the juvenile in conflict with law and, therefore, bail cannot be denied to a juvenile in conflict with law on the ground of gravity of the offence involved. 

The Bench of Justice Sant Parkash also asserted, “Bail can be denied to a juvenile in conflict with law only where there appear reasonable grounds for believing that the release of the juvenile in conflict with law on bail is likely to bring him in association with any known criminal or expose him to moral, physical or psychological danger or his release would defeat the ends of justice.”

Further, the Court added that Section 12 (grant of bail to a person who is apparently a child alleged to be in conflict with law) of the Juvenile Justice Act requires bail to be mandatorily granted to the juvenile in conflict with law and grant of bail to the juvenile in conflict with law is the rule and denial an exception.

The allegation against the petitioner was that he along with his co-accused persons constituted a gang; commit robbery by inflicting injuries and murdered of one Jasvir Singh. Consequently, an FIR was registered under Sections 304-A and 279 of IPC while the charge-sheet was presented under Section 302/397/201 of the IPC. Thus, in order to seek bail, a petition under Section 439 of the Cr.P.C. was filed for grant of regular bail to the petitioner on the ground of him being juvenile at the time of alleged occurrence. He also sought parity with his co-accused, who was already granted bail by Co-ordinate Bench of the High Court itself in 2021. 

Earlier, the petitioner applied for bail in the instant FIR before Additional District and Sessions Judge, SBS Nagar but the same was dismissed as the charge-sheet was presented against the applicant/accused and the case has been committed to the Court of Sessions. The petitioner approached the High Court, as a result of which the trial Court was directed to consider the plea of the present petitioner on merit with regard to his being a juvenile under the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The accused/petitioner filed second bail application which was also dismissed. 

After considering the factual situation of the case, the Court observed that the petitioner was less than 18 years of age at the time of commission of the offence, thus his bail application is to be decided in view of the provisions of JJ Act. 

On the JJ Act, the Court opined that the same was enacted to consolidate and amend the law relating to children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection by catering to their basic needs through proper care, protection, development, treatment, social reintegration, by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposal of matters in the best interest of children and for their rehabilitation through processes provided, and institutions and bodies established.

After perusing the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, SBS Nagar whereby petitioner’s bail was denied, the Court opined that the nature of the offence is not one of the factors on which bail may be granted or refused to the juvenile in conflict with law and, therefore, bail cannot be denied to a juvenile in conflict with law on the ground of gravity of the offence involved. 

Further, the Court added that Section 12 (grant of bail to a person who is apparently a child alleged to be in conflict with law) of the JJ Act requires bail to be mandatorily granted to the juvenile in conflict with law and grant of bail to the juvenile in conflict with law is the rule and denial an exception.

Also, the Court added that bail can be denied to a juvenile in conflict with law only where there appear reasonable grounds for believing that the release of the juvenile in conflict with law on bail is likely to bring him in association with any known criminal or expose him to moral, physical or psychological danger or his release would defeat the ends of justice. 

In the present case, the Court opined that the Additional Sessions Judge, SBS Nagar dismissed the petitioner’s bail application on the ground that his release on bail would expose him to moral, physical or psychological danger and that his release would defeat the ends of justice but the learned Court below did not refer to any material in support of his decision. However, the High Court was of the view that no such material was placed before the High Court by the respondent-State.

In view of the facts and circumstances of the case particularly in the absence of any material furnishing reasonable grounds for belief as to existence of any of the grounds specified in Section 12 of the JJ Act for denial of bail, the period of custody of the petitioner, parity with his co-accused who was already granted bail, the petitioner was held to be entitled to grant of bail and the impugned orders of the Courts below were set aside by the High Court. 

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