Chandigarh, April 22, 2022: While dealing with a revision petition involving the plea of juvenility, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that even though a birth certificate issued by the Corporation or Municipal Authority has to be given eminence, such certificate should not be shrouded by suspicious circumstances and must be duly proved.
Reflecting light on the suspicious circumstances created in the present, leading to non-acceptance of the birth certificate issued by Registrar, Deaths & Births, Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj held,“The delay in registration and issuance of birth certificate and that too after the petitioner was already nominated as an accused in the FIR leaves enough room for doubting the credibility of the witness and the documents submitted by them. The supporting evidence and the witnesses who were required to prove due issuance of the documents pertaining to the registration certificate have not been examined. The original record of the register of Births has also not been produced before the Court. Hence, the entry in the record of Municipal Council cannot be accepted as genuine, valid, legal and a primary and proved document.”
The instant revision petition was filed for setting aside the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, Narnaul, whereby the application submitted by the petitioner for declaring him as a juvenile on the date of occurrence was dismissed in the case arising out of an FIR registered under Sections 148, 149, 323, 302, 307, 216 IPC and Section 25/54/59 of the Arms Act.
The facts of the case in brief are that a criminal case was registered on the statement of complainant wherein he alleged that the complainant and two others were injured by the accused party (including the petitioner) on their head and bodies with the help of guliya and dandas. It was also alleged that the accused also fired a shot on the eye of one of the persons accompanying the complainant, which was stated to have been stained with blood.
The assailants fled from the spot. An FIR under Section 307 IPC was registered, after which Section 302 IPC was added as the victim who was shot in the eye succumbed to his injuries. The investigation was completed and a final report was filed against the petitioner even though material pertaining to juvenility of co-accused Naval and Hemant was collected by the investigating agency during the investigation.
A separate juvenile challan was to be submitted against the accused Naval and Hemant Kumar who claimed to be juvenile as on the date of commission of offence. After the submission of the final report, the case was committed and charge framed. The petitioner did not raise any plea of juvenility. Evidence commenced and it was thereafter that the petitioner submitted an application for determining the claim of his juvenility at the time of commission of offence.
The said application however, was dismissed and thus the present revision petition was preferred against the said order after a further delay of more than 2½ years of the passing of the said order.
The petitioner’s counsel vehemently argued that the documents issued by the authorities at Sri Ganganagar clearly established that date of birth of the petitioner was September 3, 1998 and he was minor when the crime was committed in 2014. Further, relying upon the Supreme Court it was contended that the birth certificate issued by a Municipal Authority or Panchayat is a relevant document to prove juvenility of an accused in preference to the school leaving record.
He argued that reliance of the prosecution on the school certificate showing his date of birth as September 03, 1994 was liable to be disregarded on appraisal/consideration thereof against the birth certificate issued by the authorities in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan (i.e. Registrar, Deaths & Births, Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan). The parents of the petitioner were also examined to support this plea of juvenility.
The Court opined from the perusal of the birth certificate issued by the authority in Ganganagar that the application for registration of the birth certificate was submitted merely five months after the commission of offence and registration of the FIR. Further, it was noted that even the information for registration of date of birth at Sri Ganganagar was submitted in the month of May 2015 along with an affidavit of Manju Devi, mother of the petitioner. Thus, the Court opined that the case of the petitioner did not seem probable and it failed to inspire confidence.
Raising doubts on the veracity of the testimony of the petitioner’s father, the Court observed that the father himself admitted that his children were living in Mahendergarh whereas he was living in Ganganagar (where he worked as a barber) during the period from 1992 to 2003 and used to visit Mahendergarh once in 2-3 months. Further, it was also noted that the father could not furnish any reasonable explanation on why he preferred to remain silent to get the date of birth registered for a period of nearly 17 years since birth of the petitioner since the application was submitted in 2015.
Also, from the examination of UDC, Municipal Council, Sri Ganga Nagar, Rajasthan (PW2), the Court noted that he submitted that the original record was not brought by him and the entry in question was made only on the basis of an affidavit purportedly furnished by the mother of the petitioner. It was also submitted that neither the affidavit nor the application were prepared in his presence and that the affidavit did not bear any identification report. It was also noticed that the space meant for informants in the application form was also vacant.
The application was registered on May 04, 2015 while the birth certificate was issued on the very next day. The Court asserted that the witness who appeared on behalf of the Municipal Council, Sri Ganga Nagar, Rajasthan was also not the person who made an entry in the register and further accepted that the affidavit was only the material on the basis whereof the entry was made. This affidavit was also found by the Court to be suspicious because of lack of identification by any competent person. The author of the affidavit, the mother of the petitioner, did not step in the witness box to support the same and also the original register was not produced to verify the condition of the same or to ascertain the genuineness of the entry.
Against this backdrop, the Court opined that even though there would be no dispute with respect to the proposition of law laid down by the Apex Court that a birth certificate issued by the Corporation or Municipal Authority has to be given eminence, however, it would be inherent in such an order that such certificate should not be shrouded by suspicious circumstances and is duly proved.
Summing up the factors adding suspicion to the present case, the Court opined that the delay caused in registration and issuance of birth certificate and that too after the petitioner was already nominated as an accused in the FIR left enough room for doubting the credibility of the witness and the documents submitted by them. Also, that the supporting evidence and the witnesses who were required to prove due issuance of the documents pertaining to the registration certificate were examined and the original record of the register of Births was not produced before the Court. Hence, it was held that the entry in the record of Municipal Council cannot be accepted as genuine, valid, legal and a primary and proved document.
Infact, the age as demonstrated in the school certificate was found to be more contemporaneous evidence and the Court held that it was corroborated by the circumstances including the admission of the father of the petitioner himself that the children used to stay at Mahendergarh.
Accordingly, the revision petition was dismissed.