Conclusive ossification test to determine the age if contrary documents produced: Bombay HC

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The Bombay High Court recently rejected a man’s plea for custody of his ‘wife’, who was detained and then handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) because her bone ossification test found she was a minor . The petitioner had claimed that he married the girl based on her date of birth on the school leaving certificate, among other documents produced by him, which suggested she was born in 2002.

However, the Court, while rejecting the man’s plea, observed that the girl’s father who produced her birth certificate, which proved that she was born in 2004 and that the ossification test also suggested that she was 17-18 years old, she was a minor.

A division bench of Judge Prasanna B Varale and Judge Anil S Kilor was hearing a habeas corpus (presenting a person in court) plea from the man who was employed at Cooper Hospital as a ward boy for many years. The girl worked as a coolie in the same department. The man and the girl became close friends and decided to get married on May 17 last year. The girl’s mother had filed a complaint with the Tulinj police station in the Palghar district for kidnapping against the petitioner. Custody of the girl was later given to CWC Palghar. The petitioner’s repeated requests to the CWC did not yield satisfactory answers, prompting him to approach HC with a plea to produce the girl in court.

Lawyers Hare Krishna Mishra and Sanjay Singh argued that the petitioner had married the woman who had come of age and that his detention in CWC custody was “clearly unsustainable and untenable”.

After hearing submissions, the bench found that the girl could be “safely declared a minor” and could not accept the claimant’s argument that her detention by the CWC, Palghar was illegal. He noted that although the school leaving certificate should take precedence and be used to determine the girl’s age over the birth certificate, as the ossification test concluded that she was underage, “the The CWC report was deemed to give the actual age of the person according to The Juvenile Justice (Case and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Respondent CWC’s report The petition, therefore, being devoid of merit, merits rejected,” he said.

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