Magistrates to follow guidelines in case of juveniles: SC

In an attempt to prevent a situation where an accused is subjected to a trial by a regular Court having criminal jurisdiction but he or she is later found to be a juvenile, the Supreme Court of India gave the below directions to all Magistrates:-
1) It is directed that the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code relating to arrest and the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 being the law of the land, should be scrupulously followed by the concerned authorities in respect of juveniles in conflict with law.
2) It is also directed that whenever an accused, who physically appears to be a juvenile, is produced before a Magistrate, he or she should form a prima facie opinion on the juvenility of the accused and record it. If any doubt persists, the Magistrate should conduct an age inquiry as required by Section 7A of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 to determine the juvenility or otherwise of the accused person. In this regard, it is better to err on the side of caution in the first instance rather than have the entire proceedings reopened or vitiated at a subsequent stage or a guilty person go unpunished only because he or she is found to be a juvenile on the date of occurrence of the incident.

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