MUMBAI: The continuation of the minor accused in the Pune Porsche fatal case, in an observation home is illegal, the Bombay High Court held on Tuesday, directing his release from the home. The HC directed it to release the minor, on bail with his custody not to be with any grandparent as directed by a magistrate on May 19 while granting him bail.
“We are bound by law, the aims and objectives of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act and must treat him as any child in conflict with law (CCL), despite the seriousness or heinousness of the crime, said the two-Judge bench of Justices Bharati Dangre and Manjusha Deshpande, while releasing the minor on bail.
The teen was allegedly speeding in the luxury set of wheels in an intoxicated state on May 19, when the car crashed into a bike, killing two software engineers, Aneesh Awadhiya and Ashwini Koshta.
On concern raised by the public prosecutor HS Venegankar of where he should now stay, the HC said his paternal aunt is there. She had filed a habeas corpus plea to release him from illegal detention, which the HC permitted. The court said he could be handed over to her care. She resides in Delhi.
“Two people have lost their lives. There was trauma but the child (juvenile in conflict with the law) was also in trauma, give him some time,” the Justice Dangre led bench had orally observed last week while reserving the matter for orders.
Senior counsel Aabad Ponda for the aunt had sought the CCL’s release arguing it was a question of his fundamental right to personal liberty and that the detention in a Home was impermissible in law once bail was granted but was ordered following “public pressure.’’
Ponda had argued and raised significant questions of law and the importance of the rule of law and the fundamental right to liberty of citizens. He said the court has to consider whether a child who is released on bail and continues to be on bail could be remanded to an observation home, contending there was an express prohibition in the Juvenile Justice Act to do so.
The HC had during the hearing also asked the PP under which legal provision had the teen been sent back to the observation home after his release on bail.
Pronouncing its order on Tuesday, the HC also said the immediate reaction to the accident, the outcry of the public, and the “clarion call given” led to the prosecution seeking to try him as an adult.
The HC said the CCL is under 18 years of age. “His age needs to be considered.. CCLs are to be considered differently and not as adults. We allow the habeas corpus and order his release,’’ the HC said.
The HC reading out the operative part of the judgment said, “A demand is made by the prosecution to accuse him of a heinous offense and try him as an adult which may receive due consideration.” It added, “We are bound by the scheme contained in the statute and have permitted the benefit contained in the legislation to be availed by the CCL. For the aforesaid reasons, we issue a writ of habeas corpus, directing the release of the CCL from the observation home where he is detained despite being released on bail by a hurriedly passed order of JJB on May 19, 2024.’’
The HC added, “ We also quash the order dated 22.5.2024 and the subsequent order dated 5.6.2024 as well as the order dated 12.6.2024 which has authorized the order of continuation of the CCL in the observation home, which according to us is illegal, the order being passed without jurisdiction conferred under law. ‘’
“We must however clarify that this is the rehabilitation and reintegration of the child in conflict with law, which is the primary object of the Act and he is already referred to a psychologist and is undergoing therapy with a de-addiction centre and he shall continue participating in such sessions.”
Venegaonkar had argued that much happened after the bail order of May 19 and alleged “tampering of evidence’’ by certain witnesses. He had said that a “strong message’’ needs to be put out that mere writing a 300-word essay cannot entitle the CCL to liberty.