Advocate says there was a miscarriage of justice

A member of the Juvenile Justice Board, Mysore district, has strongly advocated the release of one of Veerappan’s alleged associates serving a life sentence in the Mysore Central Prison on the grounds that there was “miscarriage of justice.”

Speaking to The Hindu, P.P. Baburaj, who is also an advocate and director of the People’s Legal Forum, said the case pertains to 34-year-old Anburaj, who was taken into custody in 1997, tried by a fast-track court in Chamarajanagar and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mr. Baburaj said it now transpired that Anburaj was only 17 years old at the time of his arrest and hence was a juvenile. Hence, as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, he should have been tried by the Juvenile Justice Board and not in a regular court, he added. Had Anburaj been tried as a juvenile, the maximum sentence would have been only three years in an observation home, said Mr. Baburaj, adding that he would approach the higher court to seek redressal.

Explaining the background of the case, Mr. Baburaj said Anburaj’s arrest followed a case filed by Hanur police in 2001 (SC 72/2004) in which Veerappan was the main accused (A1) and his associates Sethukuli Govindan and Meesekara Madaiah were the second and third accused respectively. Anburaj was the sixth accused in the case.

“A school dropout, Anburaj had studied till sixth standard at Puthukad village in Andiyur of Bhavani taluk in Tamil Nadu. He was rearing sheep in the forest when he was picked up, along with his brothers, by Veerappan and moved from one forest to another to carry ration for him. Around the same time, Anburaj’s parents lodged a missing complaint at the Andiyur police station in Tamil Nadu and received an acknowledgement. After six months, the brigand released them on the Sultan Bathery Road near Gundlupet. They were in Bandipur forest when released, and were taken into custody by the police, tried in court as Veerappan’s associates,” said Mr. Baburaj.

“I recently met Anburaj in jail and discovered that he was only 17 years and two months old when he was taken into custody,” said Mr. Baburaj.

In pursuance of the case, Mr. Baburaj sought details of Anburaj’s date of birth certificate from the school where he studied, which proved that Anburaj was born on May 6, 1980 and was a minor at the time of his arrest (July 12, 1997). Hence, he had to be treated as a juvenile.

“But the police never considered this aspect, and recorded his age as 19 and tried him as an adult,” Mr. Baburaj said.

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