Accused in Gurugram school murder case to be tried as adult: High Court
A Class 2 student of a prominent school in Gurugram’s Bhondsi was found dead inside the school washroom on September 8, 2017
The Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled that the 22-year-old man accused of murdering a seven-year-old boy at a private school in Gurugram in 2017, will be tried as an adult.
The high court bench of justice Anoop Chitkara upheld the order passed by the principal magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), Gurugram and thereafter by sessions judge, children court, Gurugram, observing that JJB has strictly adhered to all the directions passed by the Supreme Court while deciding the matter in 2018.
“In the appeal, the sessions court also dealt with each and every aspect of the mater in detail by referring to the legal provisions. At the time of adjudication of the present criminal revision petition, neither the appreciation of prima facie factor, nor application of law would lead to any other conclusion except that the child-in-conflict with law had to be treated as an adult,” the bench of justice Chitkara recorded.
A Class 2 student of a prominent school in Gurugram’s Bhondsi was found dead inside the school washroom on September 8, 2017.
Haryana Police, which initially investigated the murder, arrested the conductor of a school bus the same day, and said that he had confessed to the crime. However, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which took over the case in November 2017 apprehended the accused, who was studying in Class 11 of the same school, on November 7.
In December 2017, the JJB decided to treat the accused as an adult. However, high court, in October 2018 directed the board to make a fresh assessment.
Both, the victim’s father and CBI, moved the Supreme Court, arguing that the high court’s move was wrong and illegal. In July 2022, the apex court said that while considering a person an adult, one should look at their physical maturity, cognitive abilities, and social and emotional competencies.
Subsequently, the JJB also took help of Institute of Mental Health, University of Health Sciences, (PGIMS), Rohtak in the matter and in October 2022 held that the man is to be tried as an adult. The order was upheld by the sessions court, which was under challenge in high court.
The high court bench observed reference to the findings of PGIMER Rohtak would reveal that IQ of the minor was 92 and of average intelligence functioning. Further, the findings would point out about his mental fitness at the time of commission of the crime and the said fact was corroborated and supported by clinic assessment report which opined that there was no evidence of any physical, mental illness or intellectual impairment in his case.
The court further noted that the Social Investigation Report (SIR) pointed out that the minor accused was aggressive, short tempered and lacked stability but all the stages had been developed recently as it transpired during the interaction with the board. During the personal interaction with the Board, they also found that the relations of the minor’s parents were cordial and they would rarely enter into quarrel, the HC noted, referring to the JJB order.
“The final opinion of the Board that the minor accused (child-in-conflict with law) had sufficient ability to understand the consequences of the offence is based on detailed assessment of all material facts and procedures followed in accordance with the rules. I do not find any illegality in the said order and also do not find any deviation from the directions given by the Supreme Court,” the court further noted.
The bench added that it was restraining itself from discussing the preliminary evidence pointing out towards the petitioner’s mental ability to understand the consequences of the crime, his physical capacity to do the same and his awareness of the circumstances that would lead to death.