Apprehending that his future may be spoilt in company of hardened criminals if sent to regular prison on becoming 21-years old, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court (HC) on Monday granted bail to an accused, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime and was tried by a regular court for raping a minor. The court had remanded him in a borstal school in Nashik.
“Having regard to the tender age of the appellant and looking to the aspect that soon he would be 21 years of age, it would be appropriate to suspend the sentence passed by the trial court,” said justice Shrkant Kulkarni while granting bail to the Nandurbar resident.
“If he is allowed to be remanded in prison (after he turns 21), there is every possibility that he may mix-up with hardened criminals and his future may be ruined,” the judge added.
Though a juvenile at the time of the incident, the accused was tried by a regular court instead of the juvenile justice board. On February 14, 2019, an additional sessions judge at Nandurbar convicted him under section 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 4 (penetrative sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012.
The court had sentenced him to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for the offence under the Pocso Act and three years’ jail term under the IPC.
He then filed an application seeking bail during pendency of his appeal against the conviction, apprehending that he will be shifted to a regular prison on turning 21-year-old. His lawyer pointed out that he would be 21-year-old soon and it was necessary to suspend his sentence and release him on bail considering his tender age and the fact that he will come in contact with hardened criminals if he was allowed to be shifted to regular jail.
Justice Kulkarni accepted the argument and ordered for his release on bail on furnishing personal bond of ₹15,000 and a surety of the same amount.