ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has said that determination of an accused’s age is, initially the statutory responsibility of the police, in the absence of which the court of general jurisdiction can determine the age of accused and transfer the case to the concerned juvenile court.
The Court granted bail to a juvenile offender in murder case after almost two years of his imprisonment. The order authored by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah notes that any such determination of age by the court is a statutory requirement and forms part of the trial.
“Determination of age of an accused who appears or claims to be a juvenile is, therefore, initially the statutory responsibility of the Police,” says the court order. In the instant case, the police had not carried out any such exercise and therefore the court on the application of the petitioner issued the required declaration, it adds.
The court noted that accused Saleem Khan was arrested on June 7, 2018 and he was declared a juvenile on November 27, 2019, while the trial had still not been concluded.
The second bail application on statutory ground was moved on December 11, 2019 which was much after the period of six months from the date of arrest as provided under Section 6(5) of the Juvenile Act, the order said.
“Section 6(5) of the Juvenile Act provides that the juvenile will be entitled to be released on bail if he has been detained for a continuous period exceeding six months while his trial has not been concluded, unless the delay has been occasioned by the act or omission of such a juvenile,” it says.
The order says that the determination of age by the court is also a statutory obligation, hence the time spent in obtaining that finding by the court cannot possibly be termed as delay caused in the trial by the accused, so as to deprive him of his right to bail on the ground of statutory delay.
The court notes that the petitioner, being a juvenile offender, was entitled to bail on statutory ground. “Instant criminal petition is converted into an appeal and the same is hereby allowed,” the order said.
The order says: “Appellant Saleem Khan is allowed bail (in the instant FIR) subject to his furnishing bail bond in the sum of Rs.200,000/- (Rupees two hundred thousand) with one surety in the like amount, to the satisfaction of the trial court.”Brief facts of caseAccording to the crime report on the night of May 21, 2018, the complainant and his brother left their house on their motorcycle to attend to some domestic errands. On the way, two unknown persons on a motorcycle, came up from behind and overpowered them and demanded to handover their mobiles and cash to them.
As the brother of the complainant resisted, one of the two unknown persons shot him in his left leg and thereafter both fled away. In this background FIR No 241 of 2018 was registered on May 22, 2018 at Thana Lower Mall, Lahore against the petitioner Saleem Khan and a co-accused, initially under section 394 PPC.
Later on as the brother of the complainant succumbed to his injuries and died, offence under section 302 PPC was added to the crime report. Bail application of Saleem Khan was dismissed by the courts on August 29, 2018 and December 26, 2018, respectively.
Thereafter, charge was framed against Saleem on April 8, 2019 and he on April 22, 2019 moved an application seeking declaration of his juvenility at the time of the crime, having been born on January 1, 2001 according to Form “B” maintained by NADRA.
He also moved an application on April 24, 2019 for an ossification test. After examining the birth certificate issued by NADRA, the medical report and the ossification test, the trial court declared the petitioner to be a juvenile on November 27.11.2019.
Thereafter, on February 11, 2020 the petitioner moved the second bail application on the basis of statutory ground as he was arrested on June 7, 2018. The bail applications were dismissed by both the courts below, hence the instant petition for leave to appeal.