The Bombay High Court on Tuesday set aside the conviction and death penalty awarded to a man in a rape and murder case, noting that he was a juvenile at the time of the incident.
A division bench of Justices BP Dharmadhikari and SK Shinde gave the ruling while hearing a petition filed by one Sandip Shirsat challenging a 2017 sessions court order that awarded him death penalty in the case.
In his appeal, Mr Shirsat claimed that the conviction was wrong according to law since he was a minor when the incident happened in 2012 and hence, was protected under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA).
Additional Public Prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai argued that the crime was grave in nature and in such situations, when there are no other option left, the convict usually takes the defence of juvenility.
Ms Pai said the age of the convict was determined by the trial court and a bone ossification test showed that he was above 18 years at the time of the incident.
The high court bench, while relying on a sessions court judge's report on the convict's age, noted that his school records showed his birth date as August 29, 1995.
The high court said that neither the Maharashtra government nor the police machinery could bring on record any material to show that Mr Shirsat was born prior to August 1995.
"In this situation, we find that the date August 29, 1995, as mentioned in the school records, needs to be accepted. Accordingly, we find the present applicant to be a juvenile at the time of the incident," the court said.
The bench quashed his conviction and the death sentence and directed the government to produce him before the juvenile justice board.