‘Individual doctors can’t certify age of juvenile offenders’

A juvenile involved in a criminal case can be subjected to medical test to determine the age only in the absence of birth, matriculation or school certificates, or when such certificates were found to be fabricated or tampered with or not reliable, declared the High Court of Karnataka.

Also, the court said that individual doctors cannot issue certificate of age as the age determination will have to be done by a legally-constituted medical board consisting of two or more doctors having specialisation in the related fields.

Justice K.N. Phaneendra, who found that both the police and the trial in Bidar district had messed up the issue over determination of age of a juvenile facing rape charge, issued a series of directions to the State, the trial courts and the police on the proper procedure to be followed to determine the age of juvenile offenders. The court directed the State to constitute a medical board in each district hospital, as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 prescribes for constitution of such a board.

The board, the court said, should comprise a physiologist, a dental examiner, a radiologist, and a forensic expert and each of these will have to give an individual report based on the examination of the juvenile. The chairperson of the board will have to send within 15 days from reference the final report indicating the age of the juvenile on the date of the offence.

The court said that government, through district surgeons, should inform all doctors in the State that they should not individually conduct any age determination examination of a juvenile unless they are declared as medical board. In case anyone refers a juvenile for age determination to individual doctors, they should inform the district surgeon. Justice Phaneendra also directed the State Police Chief to issue circulars to all the police to collect age certificates, and refer the juvenile for medical exam only in case of difficulty in relying on such certificates.

The High Court also issued directions to the State Judicial Academy and the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority to hold legal awareness programme on the procedure for determination of age to all stakeholders.

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 8:02:20 AM |

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