After 12 years of jail, SC orders release of man finding him juvenile at the date of offence

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After 12 years of incarceration, the Supreme Court has ordered forthwith release of a life term convict, upon finding that he was a juvenile at the time of offence of murder in 2005 and has undergone much beyond three years maximum period for which a minor can be put into custody.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai, P S Narasimha and Sanjay Kumar allowed the writ petition filed by the man while holding that he can no longer be incarcerated in view of the report by Additional Sessions judge Khammam.

"In the report dated 13.05.2023, the FAC II Additional Sessions Judge, Khammam, has categorically come to the conclusion that the date of birth of Makkella Nagaiah is 02.05.1989. The report is based on a detailed examination of the documents, coupled with the oral evidence of witnesses. We have no hesitation in accepting the same," the bench said.

The court also declared that if the date of birth of the petitioner is May 02, 1989, he was 16 years 7 months old as on the date of the crime, i.e., December 21, 2005. 

"Accordingly, the petitioner was a juvenile in conflict with the law on the date of commission of the offence. In view of Section 16 read with Section 15(1)(g) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, the maximum period for which the petitioner could have been in custody is three years," the bench said.

However, as the plea of juvenility was raised for the first time in the present writ petition before us, the process of criminal law, which commenced in 2005, led to the petitioner being convicted and sentence for life imprisonment concurrently by the Trial Court, the High Court as well as the Supreme Court. In the meanwhile, the petitioner has undergone more than 12 years of improvement, it noted.

The petitioner filed the plea for verification for his claim of jurvenility two months after dismissal of his special leave petition filed by the High Court's which has confirmed his conviction and sentence of life term in the case.

The court issued notice in the matter, saying "it is well settled that the question of juvenility can be raised before any court and at any stage, as prescribed under Section 7A(1) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, and confirmed by judicial precedents."

The State filed an affidavit through the Inspector of Police, PS Sathupally, Khammam District, Telangana, stating that the petitioner studied at the M P P  School, Putrela Main, Village of Vissannapet Mandal, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, from First to Third Standard from 1994 to 1997 and his date of birth is May 02, 1989.

Since the juvenility was based on the petitioner’s school documents, the court directed the Additional Sessions Judge (Fast Track Court), Khammam, conduct an enquiry with regard to the plea of juvenility and to submit the report after recording necessary evidence by summoning the concerned officials for the production of school records.

The court finally relied upon the judge's report and ordered his immediate release after declaring him juvenile at the time of offence.

Case Title: Makkellah Nagaiah Vs State of AP

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