Provision in Article 15 (1) of Law JJ – “The assistance of experienced psychologists or psychosocial workers or other experts is compulsory”: MPHC

The High Court of Madhya Pradesh Monday ruled that it is mandatory for Juvenile Justice Council to be assisted by psychologists or experienced psychosocial workers or other experts in the preliminary assessment of a child’s mental and physical capacity (in conflict with the law) to commit a heinous crime.

The bench of Judge Shailendra Shukla ruled that for the preliminary assessment by the Juvenile Justice Council as to whether a minor should be tried in a juvenile court under section 15 of the JJ Act of 2015, the assistance of experienced psychologists or psychosocial workers or other experts would be mandatory.

Here it may be noted that under section 18 (3) of the Act, if the Commission, after a preliminary assessment under section 15, issues an order indicating that it is necessary to adjudicate the child as an adult, then the Commission may order a referral of the judgment of the case to the children’s court competent to try such offenses.

Thus, the word “may” appearing in the conditional clause of article 15, paragraph 1, of the 2015 law should be read as “shall”. The full layout is attached below:

In view of the fact that the order to transfer the case of minors aged 16 to 18 to juvenile court is in itself a step which must be taken with great caution in view of the long-term consequences and it would be appropriate effect that the word “may” be read as “shall”,“further ruled the Court.

The case before the Court

The Court heard a criminal review filed against the order issued by the judge of the additional sessions, Ratlam on criminal appeal as well as the order issued by the juvenile court, Ratlam by which the appeal against the order to try the applicant (accused of committing sex) as an adult had been fired

His lawyer argued that in accordance with Article 15 (1) [reproduced above], although the word “may” was used, but it was obligatory for the Juvenile Justice Council to be assisted by psychologists and experienced psychosocial workers during the preliminary assessment with regard to the assessment of the mental and physical ability to ultimately make an order under section 18 (3) of the Act

On the other hand, the public prosecutor argued that the assistance of a psychologist and a psychosocial worker was not compulsory because the word “may” was used in article 15 of the law.

Observations of the Court

Initially, relying on the treaty on statutory interpretive principles drafted by Judge GP Singh, the Court concluded that when the word “may” is used in legislation relating to a Court, it should be understood as ” must ” .

Now the other question that the court had to decide was this – whether the probation officer can be considered an expert in the sense described in the conditional clause of section 15 of the law and to answer it, the court observed as follows:

An expert can be considered as one who, by virtue of his profession, deals with a specialized subject. Probation officers are professionals who work with children under difficult circumstances on a daily basis.. “

Furthermore, recalling the facts of the case, the Court noted that the way in which the minor answered the questions of the Juvenile Justice Council showed that he was sufficiently articulate to answer in a manner demonstrating his adequate capacity to understand. the seriousness of the offense and its consequences and, therefore, he had responded in a manner displaying his innocence and non-involvement in the crime.

Finally, based on the report of the probation officer, the Court found that the applicant lacked discipline, culture, morals, positive thoughts and that he had a company of friends older than his age. , there is a lack of discipline on the part of the family, he does not obey his parents, is more an independent-minded person.

Thus, noting that the Juvenile Justice Board had taken various aspects into account in reaching its conclusion which was rightly upheld by the Court of Appeal, the High Court also concluded that no error of fact or of law was found. in the orders and, therefore, the review was liable to be dismissed and was therefore dismissed.

Case title – Ojef Khan V. State of the deputy

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