He was minor at the time of murder but punished as a major

The Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Government to pay a compensation of Rs.5 lakh to a man who was sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case by a trial court here despite the fact that he was a minor at the time of commission of the crime.

The prosecution had chargesheeted him for murdering a minor in the Tis Hazari courts premises in 2001. There is also another convict in the case. The victim and the two accused worked in the canteen in the court premises.

A Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice G. P. Mittal passed the direction on an appeal by the convict, Ramesh, against his conviction by the trial court submitting that the court was not competent to try his case as he was a minor at the time of the incident.

The Bench also pulled up the Delhi Police, the prosecution and counsel in the case for not thinking of determining the age of the appellant before sending him up for trial in the court.

The Bench found Ramesh to be of below 15 years at the time of the commission of crime following determination of his age as per the established procedure.

Ramesh had to remain in jail for eight long years -- three times the maximum period of punishment under the Juvenile Justice Act. Another torture he had to suffer was that he spent the eight long years in jail meant for adult convicts, not in special home for juveniles.

“These facts reveal an extremely disturbing picture, pointing a wholesale violation of the procedure established by the law, and illegal detention of Ramesh for five years,'' the Bench observed while granting the compensation.

The Court asked the Government to pay the compensation amount to the appellant within eight weeks.