The 13 convicts, declared as juveniles by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) at the time of the commission of the offence and are currently lodged in Agra Central Jail in Uttar Pradesh, have moved the Supreme Court seeking immediate direction for their release.
The petition was filed by lawyer, Rishi Malhotra, before the Supreme Court and sought immediate appropriate directions and orders in this regard.
Malhotra, in his petition, stated that these 13 convicts, declared as juveniles by the JJB at the time of the commission of the offence, have been lodged in "hardcore jails with hardcore criminals."
"The petitioners by virtue of the instant writ petitions sought to highlight a very unfortunate and sorry state of affairs in the State of Uttar Pradesh, despite clear and unchallenged rulings from the JJB, that they were Juveniles with clear findings that they were all below the age limit of 18 years, yet no steps have been taken to release them forthwith," Malhotra said, in his petition filed before the Supreme Court.
"The miseries are further compounded by the fact that these petitioners who are languishing in Agra Central Jail have already undergone judicial incarceration for periods ranging from 14 - 22 years. It would be pertinent to mention here that as per Section15 along with Section 16 of Juvenile Justices (JJ) Act, 2000, the maximum period of incarceration has been mentioned as 3 years and that too in Juvenile homes," Malhotra said in his petition and sought immediate direction from the Supreme Court for their release.
However, here is the case where the petitioner languishes in hardcore jails amongst hardcore criminals thereby completely negating the purpose and objects of the JJ Act, the petition filed by Malhotra said.
"Thus, all these petitioners having judgments declaring them as Juveniles have actually undergone illegal detentions as on date and thereby prayed to the Apex Constitutional Court to pass necessary orders of releasing them forthwith within the spirit of Article 21 of the Constitution," Malhotra said, in his petition.
He also said that the JJB disposed of the cases of these 13 petitioners regarding the issue of their Juvenility.
The JJB, through its order from time to time ranging from February 2017 to March 2021, categorically held that all these petitioners were below 18 years of age on the date of the alleged incident and were thus, declared Juvenile by it, the petition claimed.
"It is unfortunate that despite a categorical order declaring these petitioners as Juvenile, the petitioners are languishing in Central Jail, Agra having undergone custody ranging from 14 years to 22 years," read the petition.
Though in a majority of the cases their statutory criminal appeal are pending before the High Court against their conviction under various Indian Penal Code (IPC) offences, but "the necessity and the need of hour is to immediate direct release of these petitioners in view of the fact that not only they are declared juvenile but they have already undergone a maximum period of detention provided under the JJ Act, 2000, visualize, 3 years," Malhotra said, in his petition filed before the top Court.