Shocked by the information that the Juvenile Justice Board at Pune disposed of as many as 133 cases involving juvenile offenders in a single day, the Bombay high court has directed the principal judge of Pune district court to call for records and re-examine the cases.
The principal judge will submit a report on irregularities, if any, in the proceedings of 132 cases, while in one case (on which the high court passed this order) has been remanded back to the JJB.
The case before HC pertained to conviction of a boy on the basis of guilty plea tendered by his mother. The bench asked the Board to ignore the order of conviction, as the juvenile himself had not confessed to crime. In its March 8 order, bench of Justices Ashok Bhangale and Abhay Oak asked the Board to reexamine the case and decide in three months.
Further, the HC directed the principal district judge, Pune, to call for the records of 132 cases which were disposed of by the board on a single day (September 16, 2012) because the juveniles involved in each case had pleaded guilty.
After this, the Principal District Judge shall submit a report within four months, to be placed before an appropriate HC bench for consideration and further action.
"How so many cases which require application of mind and require reasoned orders to be passed could have been disposed of on a single day is a question which needs to be seriously inquired into," the HC said.
The HC was hearing an appeal of a 28-year-old man, who had been arrested along with his two brothers in an April 1988 murder case.
Madhav Jamdar, his lawyer, said he was convicted by the board on September 16, 2012, and directed to pay fine of Rs 1,000. He was released on probation. The board had passed the order on the basis of plea of guilt recorded by his mother. He was very much a major by then, 27, but his plea was not recorded.
Jamdar contended that his client had originally pleaded not-guilty when he was produced before the board. The accused had said in his affidavit before the HC that his case was heard by the board at a 'Maha Lok Adalat'.
Principal district and sessions Judge, Pune informed the HC that this Maha Lok Adalat was held on September 16, 2012, where 1,833 cases were disposed of. As many as 133 cases related to minors accused of crime, who pleaded guilty. In 1,700 cases, order of 'closure' was passed.
Advocate S V Kotwal, who was appointed as Amicus Curie (court's friend), said even if the board wanted to record a second plea, it could not have been the mother's, because the accused was now major.
Before the regular court, it is impossible to pass orders in 1,700 cases, as it requires reasons to be recorded, added Kotwal. The court should scrutinise all the 133 cases, he said, which the HC agreed with.