June 04, 2018
In this recent case (read here) wherein the accused was held guilty of offence under Section 6 of POCSO Act for committing sodomy on the victim ‘S’, a minor boy, the issue of proof of age of victim on the day of commission of offence also fell for consideration before the Court.
The proof of age submitted was Adhaar card of the victim, according to which ‘S’ on the date of commission of offence was of 6 years. The Delhi High Court in the case accepted Adhaar card as document evidencing proof of age of the victim.
The Delhi High Court opined as under:
- That Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice Rules, assigns in descending order of importance, primacy, as proof of age, to (i) the matriculation, or equivalent, certificate, (ii) the date of birth as recorded by the school first attended, and (iii) the certificate of birth, given by a Corporation, municipal authority, or panchayat.
- That the Aadhar Card, being a document issued by the Government of India is, in our view, equivalent – in fact, superior – to a certificate given by a Corporation, municipal authority, or panchayat. The entry, in the said Aadhar card of the age of ̳S‘ as 6 years, must be taken, therefore, as proof of the fact that, on the date of issuance of the said card ‘S‘ was, in fact, 6 years of age.
- The Delhi High Court also discussed Madras High Court’s judgment in the case of Panneerselvam vs. Inspector of Police, wherein the High Court opined that the Aadhar Card could not satisfy the requisites of Rule 7 of the Juvenile Justice Rules, as proof of age of the holder as it did not mention the date of birth, and mentioned, instead, the age in years. While taking a view contrary to Madhras High Court’s observation in the case the Delhi High Court in the instant case stated that this, in our view, is a distinction without a difference.
- The Delhi High Court remarked that the determination of the date of birth is only for the sake of ascertaining the age of the person concerned. That apart, Rule 7 (3) of the Juvenile Justice Rules states that ―the age determination inquiry shall be conducted by the court or the Board or, as the case may be, the Committee by seeking evidence by obtaining one of the documents enlisted thereunder. As such, the document is only to be referred to, by way of evidence for ascertaining the age of the person concerned, and the Rule does not require, either expressly or by necessary implication, that the date of birth of the person should figure on the body of the said document. Indeed, when the document mentions the age itself, no better proof could be sought, for ascertaining the age of the person concerned.