Chandigarh, July 16: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that grant of bail to a juvenile is “the rule” and gravity or nature of the offence is not a relevant factor for consideration while deciding a juvenile’s application for bail.

Calling attention to Section 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, Justice Suvir Sehgal stated that bail could be declined only in case a juvenile’s release was likely to bring him in association with known criminals, expose him to moral, physical or physiological danger or defeat the ends of justice, The Tribune reported.

“Nothing could be referred to by the state-respondent to show that if enlarged on bail, the juvenile would be exposed to moral, physical or physiological danger or would come in contact with known criminals. Mere apprehension of the prosecution without any basis would not be sufficient grounds to decline the bail to the juvenile,” Justice Sehgal said.

Justice Sehgal asserted: “Under Section 3(i) of the Act, a presumption of innocence of any malafide or criminal intent arises in favour of the juvenile.” The assertion by the court came on a petition by a juvenile in conflict with the law.

He had challenged the order dated February 4, whereby his third application for bail under Section 12 of the Act was declined by the Principal Magistrate of the Rohtak Juvenile Justice Board. He had also challenged an order dated March 6, passed by the Rohtak Additional Sessions Judge, vide which his appeal against the order was dismissed.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the juvenile was entitled to bail as a matter of right. The counsel pointed out that the petitioner was a student and his studies had been disrupted. Opposing the petition, the state counsel argued that an attack by the petitioner and his family had resulted in a death and an iron pipe was recovered at the instance of the petitioner.

Referring to another order passed by the High Court in January, Justice Sehgal stated that a juvenile was entitled to bail as a matter of right in accordance with Section 12 of the Act, unless the case fell in exceptions carved out in the provision itself.

Accepting the petition, Justice Sehgal noted that the petitioner had spent more than seven months in incarceration. The maximum period that could be ordered to be spent by a juvenile in a special home under Section 18(1)(f) of the Act was three years.

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