High Court finds he was 16 when he committed the crime in 1992

After spending more than 14 years in jail on the charge of murder, 37-year-old Jayavel, a life convict, can now walk free from the Central Prison, Vellore. This is because the Madras High Court has said that at the time of commission of the offence, he was a juvenile. As he was a juvenile in conflict with law when the crime was committed, as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, he could not have been sentenced to life. Now, he had been in jail for more than 14 years. Following the mandate of law and Supreme Court decisions, Jayavel should be released from jail, a Division Bench comprising Justices K.N. Basha and P. Devadass said.

The prosecution case was that Prabhu, Jayavelu and others murdered Raghu at Kasikuppam, Kasimedu here on June 30, 1992. Jayavelu, who was cited as the second accused, and six others were sentenced to life by the IV Additional Sessions Judge, Chennai. One person was acquitted. The punishment was confirmed by the High Court and the Supreme Court dismissed the Special Leave Petition (SLP.)

In a habeas corpus petition here, Jayavel submitted he was born on January 3, 1976. Hence, as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, he was a ‘juvenile in conflict in law.’ He should not have been sentenced to life. The Bench observed that after the disposal of the SLP, the petitioner claimed juvenility for the first time before the High Court. Merely because he had raised it at a belated stage, the claim could not be rejected.

On the High Court orders, the IV Additional Sessions Judge conducted an enquiry to determine the petitioner’s age on the date of occurrence of the crime. In his report, the sessions judge said Jayavel was 16 years, five months and 27 days old at the time of the offence.

The trial Judge concluded that since Jayavel was above 16 years as per the Juvenile Justice Act 1986, he was not a juvenile in conflict with law.

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