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13 juvenile prisoners move SC, seek immediate release after serving 14-22 years in prison

The 13 prisoners, who were recognized as minors by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) at the scene of the offence and are currently being detained at the Agra Central Jail in Uttar Pradesh. The prisoners have petitioned the Supreme Court for their early release.

Rishi Malhotra, a lawyer, filed a plea before the Supreme Court demanding urgent suitable directives and judgments in this respect. In his plea, Malhotra claims that these 13 criminals, who were designated minors by the JJB at the time of the trial, have been confined in harsh cells with dangerous convicts. The petition contended that the appellants’ suffering is exacerbated by the fact that they had previously served legal prison for periods ranging from 14 to 22 years in Agra Central Jail. It is significant to mention that under Section 15 and Section 16 of the Juvenile Justices (JJ) Act, 2000, the average age of confinement is three years, and this is only in juvenile homes. 

Furthermore, the petition stated that all of the plaintiffs who have had rulings announcing them to be juveniles have been subjected to illegal detentions as of today, and prayed to the Apex Constitutional Court to issue necessary orders for their immediate release in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution.

It was also noted that the JJB had invalidated the appeals of these 13 petitioners on the grounds of their ineligibility. The JJB, in a series of orders spanning February 2017 to March 2021, explicitly held that all of the petitioners were under the age of 18 on the date of the claimed occurrence, and so deemed them juveniles. However, their statutory criminal appeals against their convictions under different Indian Penal Code (IPC) violations are ongoing in the High Court in the majority of instances. Yet, given that these petitioners have been labelled juveniles and have already served the maximum time of incarceration allowed under the JJ Act of 2000, namely three years, it is imperative that they be released immediately.

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