Supreme Court Grants Interim Bail To Accused Who Was Juvenile At The Time Of Crime

A Division Bench of India’s Supreme Court on Thursday granted preliminary bail to the minor charged with the murder of a seven-year-old boy at Gurugram’s Ryan International School in a crime that sent shockwaves across the nation. This comes on the heels of a decision Monday by the Juvenile Justice Board that the accused must be tried as an adult. The sofa consisting of: Judges Dinesh Maheshwari and JK Maheshwari authorized the release of the accused under “conditions as may be ordered by the Sessions Judge, Gurugram” and specifically stated that he would be under “continuous supervision” by the probation officer or other person charged with the responsibility. The Sessions Judge was also instructed to notify the court of any “deficiency in the petitioner’s conduct” brought to their attention by the probation officer. This was done to meet “requirements to balance the competing claims and equities,” according to the Bench.

An interesting legal point that came up during the discussion was whether: Section 12 of the Youth Act, 2015 may be employed by an adult charged with a crime committed while they were a minor to be released on bail. This, the Bench concluded, would require a detailed investigation and would be granted. However, the court notes that the suspect, who was arrested as a sixteen-year-old, had been in a penitentiary for almost five years. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said:

“Whether a bail application is tenable under Section 12 tenable or not is a question that we will investigate, determining whether it should go to a three-judge court. At the moment we don’t know. We keep everything open. Section 12 applying to him does not ipso facto mean that he gets bail. Other hurdles will have to be overcome. We’re going to investigate all of that. But the point is, the suspect is in jail for five years. Have we been able to balance the competing considerations?”

Attorney Sushil Tekriwal, who represents the victim’s father, strongly opposed the decision to grant provisional bail. He argued that there were some “vulnerabilities associated with some of the material witnesses” who were “in the same environment”. He said –

“There are intimidating aspects… Bailiffs are not spared either. These two, father and uncle, are very strong people from the local bar. Your Honor may consider the application urgently, but the material witnesses must be questioned. Only after that Such a provisional arrangement should be allowed so that the witnesses can testify without any fear or anxiety.”

Judge Dinesh Maheshwari reminded counsel that the accused’s father had already been “put to work” in a court order and asked:

“If you say that the guardians and parents and other persons related to the accused have their own powers… If they want to do something, they can do it, regardless of whether the boy is out on bail. That is not the answer … do you mean to say, when the boy comes out, it will add extra flavors to what they would already do?”

Tekriwal reacted –

“The effect would be that it would be multiplied.”

Justice Dinesh Maheshwari sharply rejected this claim, saying:

“You only look at the emotions, not the reality. The crime is barbaric and heinous. Yet the law must be balanced.”

Speaking on behalf of the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee said:

“I understand that he has been in prison for some time. But the suspect is not in prison.”

Justice Dinesh Maheshwari refuted –

“At least he’s not a free man.”

Judge Dinesh Maheshwari, who granted the application for provisional bail, stated:

“… Consequently, the prayer for injunctions is granted and until further orders of this court, i.e. by way of injunctive relief, the petitioner is released on bail under conditions which may be imposed by trial judge Gurugram. It is however, provided in particular that the Applicant Appellant will remain under the constant supervision of a probation officer or any other person designated by the trial judge and it is made clear that the Petitioner and his parents should not be expected to interfere with the handling of any the case and for that matter he will not attempt to contact or communicate with any of the witnesses.”

On September 8, 2017, the body of a Class II student was found with his throat slit in a laundry room at Ryan International School in Gurugram. The Central Bureau of Investigation, after taking over the case from the Haryana police, acquitted the person initially charged and detained a class XI student of the same school. The suspect, who was sixteen at the time of the incident, turned twenty-one this year on April 3. The trial begins on October 31.

Business title

Master Bholu (imaginary name) v. CBI [SLP (Crl) No. 8691/2021]

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