HC questions speedy disposal of cases by Juvenile Justice Board
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The Bombay High Court recently took serious note of the manner cases were being disposed of in special drives by the Juvenile Justice Board. The drive was initiated to speedily dispose of cases and reduce pendency. As recorded by the High Court, as many as 133 cases were disposed of in merely a day on recording a purported guilty plea.
In the particular case being heard by the court, the Juvenile Justice Board had recorded a plea of guilt on behalf of the mother of the accused, although he was no longer a juvenile. The accused, Krishna Mandlik, had earlier pleaded innocent. However, the board convicted him of murder on recording the guilty plea of his mother. Further, Mandlik was 27 when his mother recorded the guilty plea. This case was heard during a special drive on September 16 last year.
The board, however, recorded that the allegation against Mandlik was assault with a stick and he was released with only a fine of Rs 1,000. In relation to the same crime, his elder brother Nitin was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice A P Bhangale of the High Court observed, "Going by even the most optimistic estimate, the process of recording the plea of guilt and passing an order will not take less than 15 minutes in every case, assuming that the cases are of petty offences. Thus in any event... maximum 25 to 30 cases could have been disposed of in five or six working hours. We fail to understand as to how 133 cases were disposed of in a day."
The court also questioned how as many as 1,700 cases were disposed of in a day during the Maha Lok Adalat by passing an order under Section 258 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The section grants a magistrate powers to stop proceedings of a case. However, it requires a reasoned order to be passed in each case.