SC refuses to give relief to 'roadside Romeo' over age

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SummaryIf the convict could prove he was minor on the date of the offence, he would have been sent to an institution for reformation but now he will be lodged in a prison.

Noting that he was being leniently let off, the Supreme Court has rebuffed an attempt by a “roadside Romeo” to prove his juvenility in an 18-year-old molestation case and sent him to jail for six months.

As the accused cried foul that he had been tried in regular criminal courts despite being a juvenile on the date of offence, a Bench of Justices B S Cha-uhan and S A Bobde agreed with him that he could raise this defence for the first time even before the Supreme Court.

“But the question that wo-uld arise is if the matter came before the Juvenile Justice Board, the maximum sentence that can be awarded in such a case is of 3 years. In the instant case, the punishment awarded is only six months so the cause of the appellant is not prejudiced,” said the court.

Refraining from going into the questions of determining the convict’s age, the Bench said: “In view of the above, we are of considered opinion that as the appellant had been aw-arded only six months imprisonment, considering the matter under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 would not serve any purpose at such a belated stage.”

If the convict could prove he was minor on the date of the offence, he would have been sent to an institution for reformation but now he will be lodged in a prison. The Bench said: “In the instant case, as the appellant has committed a heinous crime and with the social condition prevailing in the society, the modesty of a wom-an has to be strongly guarded and as the appellant behaved like a roadside Romeo, we do not think it is a fit case where the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 should be given to the appellant.”

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