The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered Delhi police to produce a person arrested in the violent Jahangirpuri case, who was remanded to the investigative agency’s custody by a lower court on Sunday, before a council Juvenile Justice (JJB) after his family said his detention was unlawful as he was only 16 years old.
The divisional bench of Judge Siddharth Mridul and Judge Rajnish Bhatnagar said he will have to appear before the JJB for age verification. “The fact is (that) it is up to the JJB to determine his age. We have already said that it must be done quickly,” the court said.
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The police maintained that the plea regarding his age was not made earlier and that he will produce it before the magistrate. According to the habeas corpus petition in court, the age of the accused was stated to be 22 by the police. He was arrested at his home on the night of April 16.
The court said that where there is evidence that he is prima facie a minor, he must be brought directly before the JJB and not before a magistrate. “If you find out now that he is a minor, you have to take him there. You are not going to wait for a PC (police custody) for a day and then take him there,” he observed.
Inspector Varun Dalal, Additional SHO of Jahangirpuri Police Station, then said that the accused would be brought before JJB-I at Kingsway Camp, GTB Nagar as per law on Monday.
Lawyer Tara Narula, representing the accused, said earlier that he could not have been arrested by the police and that he is “visibly hurt” as he was the victim of police violence. Narula further argued that his release should be immediately ordered by the High Court as the municipal birth certificate is registered.
However, the court said the age verification must first take place. The court also said it limited the habeas corpus petition to the question of the defendant’s age and his production before the JJB.
“We understand you say he is underage, but these are all serious matters. It’s not like they caught him for loitering or jaywalking. They picked him up for being part of a mob. Let us follow the mandate of the Juvenile Justice Act and order his presence before JJB,” the court said, adding that JJB may order his release into the custody of his immediate guardian.
The petition also called for an immediate medical examination of the accused and an investigation into the circumstances leading to his arrest. In the order, the court said: “It shall be open to the applicant or her declared minor brother-in-law (the defendant) to raise all legal and factual issues raised in these proceedings before the competent court in accordance with with the law “.