Supreme Court discussed the law of Juvenility

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Satya Deo v. State of Uttar Pradesh

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 860 OF 2019, decided on October 10, 2020

Bench: SA Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ


Under the schemes of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986(hereinafter referred as Act, 1986), the definition of ‘juvenile’ under the 1986 Act, which was below sixteen years in case of a boy and below eighteen years in case of a girl on the date the boy or girl is brought for first appearance before the court or the competent authority, whereas the Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) Act, 2000 (Act, 2000) does not distinguish between a boy or girl and a person under the age of eighteen years is a juvenile. Further, under the 2000 Act, the age on the date of commission of the offence is the determining factor.


Whether the accused who was 16 years old as on on the date of commission of the offence i.e. 11.12.1981 would be governed by Act,1986 or Act,2000?


The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the accused, it set aside the sentence of life imprisonment and remitted the matter to the jurisdiction of the Board for passing appropriate order/directions under Section 15 of the Act, 2000 including the question of determination and payment of appropriate quantum of fine and the compensation to be awarded to the family of the deceased. The Court relying upon Pratap Singh v. State of Jharkhand, (2005) 3 SCC 551 held that :

·         the Act, 2000 would be applicable in a pending proceeding instituted under the 1986 Act in any court or authority, if the person had not completed eighteen years of age as on 1st April 2001, when the Act, 2000 came into force.

·         Consequently, the Act, 2000 would have prospective effect and not retrospective effect except in cases where the person had not completed the age of eighteen years on the date of commencement of the 2000 Act. Other pending cases would be governed by the provisions of the 1986 Act.

  • Act, 2000 would continue to apply and govern the proceedings which were pending when the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015(Act, 2015) was enforced.


Supreme Court’s view on scheme of the Act,2000

  • Legislative intent clearly expressed states that all proceedings in respect of a juvenile pending in any court on the date on which the Act, 2000 came into force shall continue before that court as if the Act, 2000 had not been passed.
  • If the court comes to a finding that a juvenile has committed the offence, it shall record the finding but instead of passing an order of sentence, forward the juvenile to the Juvenile Justice Board (Board) which shall then pass orders in accordance with the provisions of the Act,2000 as if the Board itself had conducted an inquiry and was satisfied that the juvenile had committed the offence.
  • The proviso states that the Board, for any adequate and special reasons, can review the case and pass appropriate order in the interest of the juvenile.
  • The expression ‘all pending cases’ in the Explanation to Section 20 includes not only trial but even subsequent proceedings by way of appeal, revision etc. or any other criminal proceedings. Thus, in respect of pending cases, Section 20 authoritatively commands that the court must at any stage, even post the judgment by the trial court when the matter is pending in appeal, revision or otherwise, consider and decide upon the question of juvenility.
  • Juvenility is determined by the age on the date of commission of the offence. The factum that the juvenile was an adult on the date of enforcement of the Act, 2000 or subsequently had attained adulthood would not matter.
  • As per Section 64, where a juvenile in conflict with law is undergoing any sentence of imprisonment at the commencement of the Act,2000 he shall, in lieu of undergoing the sentence, be sent to a special home or be kept in a fit institution in such manner as the state government thinks fit for the remainder of the period of sentence. However, such sentence shall not exceed the maximum period provided in Section 15 of the Act, 2000. The statute overrules and modifies the sentence awarded, even in decided cases.

Supreme Court on Interpretation of Section 25 Of the Act,2015


Section 25 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is a non-obstante clause which applies to all proceedings in respect of a child alleged or found to be in conflict with law pending before any Board or court on the date of commencement of the Act, 2015, that is, 31st December 2015. It states that the pending proceedings shall be continued in that Board or court as if the Act, 2015 had not been passed.

The use of the word ‘any’ before the board or court in Section 25 of the Act, 2015, would mean and include any court including the appellate court or a court before which the revision petition is pending.

The word ‘found’ in the phrase ‘a child alleged or found to be in conflict with law’ is used in past-tense and would apply in cases where an order/judgment has been passed.

The word ‘alleged’ would refer to those proceedings where no final order has been passed and the matter is sub-judice.

The expression ‘court’ is not restricted to mean a civil court which has the jurisdiction in the matter of ‘adoption’ and ‘guardianship’ in terms of clause (23) to Section 2 of the Act, 2015. The definition clause is applicable unless the context otherwise requires.

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