Kerala High Court orders release of two convicts who were minors at the time of committing murder

During visit by Kerala Legal Services Authority member secretary at prison, they hand over copies of their school admission register which revealed that they were minors at the time of the crime

Updated - July 10, 2024 08:18 am IST

Published - July 09, 2024 08:18 pm IST - KOCHI

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has directed the Superintendent, Central Prison, Thiruvananthapuram, to release two persons convicted in a murder case forthwith as it has now been revealed that they were juveniles at the time of the commission of the crime.

The accused were convicted by the Thodupuzha Sessions Court for the murder of one Palaniswami on May 21, 2004, at Thodupuzha. As per the police charge, Mahesh and Rajesh, accused number two and three in the case, were aged 22 and 20 years respectively on the date of the incident. The court found them, along with two other accused, guilty of the offence on September 22, 2010. The High Court confirmed the finding of the Sessions Court in 2016, while dismissing the appeal filed by them.

When the member secretary of the Kerala Legal Services Authority (KELSA) visited the prison where the two convicts were undergoing incarceration, they handed over the copies of their school admission register which revealed that they were minors at the time of the crime. The visit took place as per the directives of the National Legal Services Authority to identify persons currently in prison who were potentially minors at the time of the commission of the offence and to assist them in filing necessary applications for raising a claim of juvenility. The High Court then ordered the Sessions Court to conduct an inquiry with regard to their juvenility. The inquiry found that Mahesh was aged 17 years 11 months and 11 days while Rajesh A. was 17 years and 10 days on the date of commitment of the crime.

The Bench ordered their release as the court found that the convicts have already undergone imprisonment for over a decade when as per section 15(1)(g) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the maximum period for which the juveniles could have been in custody is 3 years.

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