BARUN CHANDRA THAKUR VERSUS MASTER BHOLU & ANR.

BARUN CHANDRA THAKUR VERSUS MASTER BHOLU & ANR.

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.950/2022
(arising out of SLP(Crl.) No.10123 of 2018)
BARUN CHANDRA THAKUR      …APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
MASTER BHOLU & ANR.  …RESPONDENT(S)
WITH 
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.951/2022
(arising out of SLP(Crl.) No. 6347  of 2022 
@Diary No.25451 of 2019)
CBI                               …APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
BHOLU                         …RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T 
VIKRAM NATH, J.
Delay condoned.
1
2. Leave granted.
3. This Court is called upon to examine the proceedings
arising out of preliminary assessment made under section 15
of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,
20151
.  In consonance with the provisions of section 74 of the
Act, 2015 following the orders passed by the Courts below, we
have used the name ‘Bholu’ for the accused and ‘Prince’ for
the victim.
4. These   two   appeals,   one   filed   by   the   complainant   and
other by the CBI, question the correctness of the judgment
and order dated 11.10.2018 passed by learned single Judge of
Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh in Criminal
Revision No.2366 of 2018, titled Bholu versus CBI, whereby
the revision was allowed; the order dated 20.12.2017 passed
by the Juvenile Justice Board2
, Gurugram and the order dated
21.05.2018   passed   by   the   Additional   Sessions
Judge/Children’s Court were set aside and the matter was
remanded to the Board for fresh consideration within a period
of six weeks from the date of receipt of certified copy of the
1 The Act, 2015.
2 ‘Board’ for short
2
order. Certain other directions were also issued. The operative
portion of the order dated 11.10.2018 is reproduced below: ­
“…In   view   of   the   facts   and   law   position   as
discussed above, the present petition is allowed
and impugned order dated 20.12.2017 passed by
the Juvenile Justice Board, Gurugram and order
dated   21.05.2018   passed   by   the   Additional
Sessions Judge, Gurugram are set aside. The case
is   remanded   back   to   the   Board   for   afresh
consideration   after   assessing   the   intelligency,
maturity, physical fitness as to how the juvenile
in conflict with law was in a position to know the
consequences   of   the   offence.   The   necessary
exercise be done within a period of six weeks from
the date of receipt of certified copy of the order. It
is   also   relevant   to   mention   here   that   while
conducting preliminary assessment, the opinion
of   psychologist   of   the   Government   hospital   be
obtained.”
5. Facts relevant for the adjudication of the present appeals
are as follows:
(i) An unfortunate incident took place on 08.09.2017
in   an   institution   in   Gurugram   where   a   Class   II
student (Prince) was found in the toilet with his
throat slit in an unconscious state at about 08.30
am. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared
brought dead. Initially the State Police on suspicion
arrested three persons, a driver of the school vehicle
and two officials of the school, but later on they
were released on bail. 
3
(ii)  In   the   meantime,   the   State   transferred   the
investigation   to   Central   Bureau   of   Investigation3
.
The   CBI,   during   its   investigation,   interrogated   a
Class XI student (Bholu) from the same institution
on two­three occasions, thereafter arrested him on
07.11.2017 (respondent­1, in both the appeals)4
(iii)  From the material collected, it was found that the
date of birth of respondent was 03.04.2001. As the
date of the incident was 08.09.2017, he was aged 16
years 05 months and 05 days as on the relevant
date. There is no dispute about the date of birth of
the respondent.
6. As   required   by   section   10   of   the   Act,   2015,   the
respondent was produced before the Board by the CBI on
08.11.2017.   The   Board   directed   for   placing   the   child   in   a
safety home. The parents of the respondent were informed.
Under section 13 of the Act, the Social Investigation Report5
was prepared by the Legal Probation Officer and submitted on
27.11.2017 in the prescribed Form No. 6. 
3 “CBI” for short
4 “the respondent” for short
5 Referred to as “SIR”.
4
7.  Section 15 of the Act, 2015 mandates that where a child
in conflict with law has committed a heinous offence and is
above the age of 16 years, the Board would make a preliminary
assessment and pass appropriate orders in accordance with
the provisions of sub­section (3) of section 18 of the Act, 2015.
8.   In the present case, both the conditions required under
section 15 of the Act, 2015 were fulfilled as such the Board
undertook the exercise of making the preliminary assessment.
In that process, the Board called for a report from the expert
psychologist, also interacted with the respondent, considered
the SIR as also other material placed before it and proceeded
to pass an order on 20.12.2017 holding that there was need of
trial of respondent as an adult and accordingly, directed for
transfer of papers to the Children’s Court.
9. Against   the   order   dated   20.12.2017,   the   respondent
preferred an appeal before the Children’s Court under section
101 of the Act, 2015.  The Children’s Court, vide judgment and
order dated 21.05.2018, upheld the decision of the Board and
dismissed the appeal. 
10. Aggrieved by the judgment of the Children’s Court, the
respondent preferred a Criminal Revision under section 102 of
5
the  Act, 2015, before  the High  Court.   The learned single
Judge vide judgment and order dated 11.10.2018 allowed the
Revision, set aside the orders passed by the Board as also the
Children’s Court and remanded the matter to the Board for a
fresh consideration. It is this order of remand passed by the
High Court, correctness of which has been assailed in the
present two appeals by the CBI and also the complainant. 
11. The judgment of the High Court is dated 11.10.2018 and
as per its direction, Board was to decide the matter afresh
within six weeks.  Assailing the order of the High Court, two
special leave petitions were filed before this Court.  One by the
complainant registered as SLP (Crl.) No. 10123 of 2018 and
the other by the CBI registered as SLP (Diary No. 25451 of
2019).  This Court while issuing notice in the first special leave
petition filed by the complainant Barun Chandra Thakur, also
passed an order of status quo on 19.11.2018.   The special
leave petition filed by the CBI was clubbed/tagged with the
special leave petition of the complainant.  These matters have
remained pending for over 3 ½ years.  From the record we do
not find any effort on part of the parties for early hearing or
disposal of the two petitions for over 3 years.  It was only in
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January, 2022 that the counsel for the respondent requested
that the matter may be taken up for hearing as the respondent
is in custody for more than three years and very soon, he will
be completing 21 years of age.  The matters were taken up on
a number of occasions and the arguments of both sides were
heard at length.
12. We   have   heard   Shri   Vikramjit   Banerjee,   learned
Additional Solicitor General for the CBI­appellant, Shri Sushil
Tekriwal, learned counsel for the complainant­appellant and
Shri   Sidharth   Luthra,   learned   senior   counsel   for   the
respondent and perused the material on record.
13. Before   proceeding   to   deal   with   the   submissions
advanced,   it   would   be   appropriate   to   briefly   refer   to   the
statutory provisions, the scheme of the Act, 2015 and the
necessity requiring a preliminary assessment under section 15
of the Act, 2015. Before coming of the Act, 2015, the Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 20006
  was in
force. Under the said enactment, all children below 18 years of
age were to be treated as juveniles and tried as such by the
Board. It was only after the coming of the Act, 2015, that a
6 Hereinafter referred to as ‘Act, 2000’
7
further category was carved out of juveniles between 16 to 18
years involved in heinous offences. They were subjected to a
preliminary assessment to ascertain whether they are to be
tried as a child by the Board or to be tried as an adult by the
Children’s Court.  However, for those above the age of 16 years
and below 18 years, if the Board was of the opinion that the
said Juvenile should not be tried as an adult, the Board would
continue with the trial as envisaged under the Act, 2015. 
14. The Act, 2000 and the Act, 2015 were enacted with the
following preamble:
“An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating
to children alleged and found to be in conflict with
law and children in need of care and protection by
catering to their basic needs through proper care,
protection,   development,   treatment,   social   reintegration, by adopting a child­friendly approach
in the adjudication and disposal of matters in the
best   interest   of   children  and  for   their
rehabilitation   through   processes  provided,   and
institutions and bodies established, hereinunder
and for matters connected therewith or incidental
thereto…”
Relevant provisions of Act, 2015
15. Chapter   I  consists   of  sections   1  and  2   (which   is  the
definition compendium). Section 2(9) defines the “best interest
of the child”; section 2(12) defines a “child” to mean a person
who has not completed 18 years of age; section 2(13) defines a
“child in conflict with law”; ‘Child friendly’ is defined under
8
section 2(15); the ‘Children’s Court’ is defined under section
2(20);   ‘Heinous   Offences’   is   defined   under   section   2(33)   to
include   offences   for   which   the   minimum   punishment   is
imprisonment for seven years or more. 
16. Chapter II consists of section 3 which provides for the
general  principles   of  care  and   protection   of  children  to  be
followed in the administration of the Act. According to it, the
Central Government, the State Government, the Board and
other agencies as the case may be, while implementing the
provisions   of   the   Act   shall   be   guided   by   the   fundamental
principles   enumerated   in   clauses   (i)   to   (xvi).   It   would   be
worthwhile   to   refer   to   some   of   the   principles;   clause   (i)
Principle  of  presumption  of   innocence:  any child shall be
presumed   to   be   an   innocent   of   any   mala   fide   or   criminal
intent; clause (iii) Principle of Participation:  every child will
have a right to be heard and to participate in all processes and
decisions affecting his interest; clause (iv)  Principle  of  best
interest:  primary consideration in all decisions regarding the
child shall be in his best interest; clause (ix) Principle of nonwaiver of rights: it does not permit waiver of any of the right
9
of  the   child  and  even   non­exercise  of  a  fundamental  right
would not amount to waiver; clause (xvi) Principles of natural
justice:  standards of fairness shall be adhered to including
the right to fair hearing, rule against bias and right to review
by all persons or bodies, acting in a judicial capacity under
this Act.
17. Chapter III consisting of sections 4 to 9 deals with the
constitution of the Board, the procedure in relation to the
Board, powers, functions and responsibilities of the Board.
Sub­section (1) of section 4 provides for establishment of a
Board   in   every  district   which  could  be   more   than   one,   to
exercise powers and discharge functions relating to children in
conflict with law under the Act. Sub­section (2) of section 4
defines the constitution of the Board. Sub­section (3) provides
for the eligibility of the social workers to be appointed to the
Board.   Sub­sections   (4),   (5),   (6)   and   (7)   further   provide
eligibility for selection, disqualification, term and training as a
member of the Board. Section 5 provides that if during the
course of any inquiry by the Board, the child completes the
age of eighteen years then the Board will continue with the
10
inquiry to pass final orders as if such person has continued to
be   a   child.   Section   6   provides   that   any   person   who   has
completed   eighteen   years   of   age   and   is   apprehended   for
committing an offence when he was below the age of eighteen
years, then, subject to the provisions of this section, he would
be treated as a child during the process of the inquiry. Section
7   provides   for   sittings   of   the   Board   for   transacting   its
businesses. It also refers to the coram of the Board. Section 8
defines the powers, functions and responsibilities of the Board.
Section   9   provides   for   the   procedure   to   be   followed   by   a
Magistrate,   who   has   not   been   empowered   to   exercise   the
powers of Board under the Act, when he is of the opinion that
any alleged offender brought before him is a child. In that
case, the Magistrate would immediately record his opinion and
forward the child along with the record of proceedings to the
Board having jurisdiction.
18. Chapter IV comprising of sections 10 to 26 deals with the
procedure in relation to children in conflict with law. Sections
10 and 11 provide for the apprehension of a child in conflict
with law and as to how he should be dealt with. Section 12
deals with bail to a person who is apparently a child alleged to
11
be in conflict with law. Section 13 provides that the parents,
guardians to be informed forthwith. Section 14 requires the
Board to hold an inquiry regarding a child in conflict with law,
such inquiry to be conducted and appropriate orders passed
under sections 17 and 18 of the Act, 2015. 
19. Section 15 provides for preliminary assessment where the
alleged offence is heinous and where the child has completed
or  is  above the  age of 16 years,  the Board is required  to
conduct the preliminary assessment with regard to his mental
and   physical   capacity   to   commit   such   offence,   ability   to
understand   the   consequences   of   the   offence   and   the
circumstances in which he allegedly committed the offence
and after such assessment, pass an order in accordance with
sub­section (3) of section 18. If the Board is of the opinion that
the   child  needs   to  be   tried   as   an  adult   then   the   case   be
transferred to the Children’s Court having jurisdiction to try
such offence. Otherwise, the Board itself will proceed to try the
matter   as   a   summons   case   under   the   Code   of   Criminal
Procedure, 1973.7
7 For short, ‘Cr.P.C.
12
20. Section 16 confers power on the Chief Judicial Magistrate
or the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate to review the pendency of
cases before the Board once in three months and may issue
necessary   directions   in   that   regard   depending   upon   the
pendency.
21. Section 17 requires the Board to pass appropriate orders
where after inquiry, the Board is satisfied that the child has
not   committed   any   offence.   The   Board   may   also   pass
appropriate orders where the  child is in need of care and
protection and refer him to the Child Welfare Committee.
22. Section 18 requires the Board to pass appropriate orders
where the child is found to be in conflict with law. Different
categories are provided and various powers are conferred on
the Board to take care of such children who are below the age
of sixteen years and have committed heinous offence and for
children up to the age of eighteen years who have committed
petty offence or a serious offence. Sub­section (1) of section 18
and its various clauses from (a) to (g) confer a variety of powers
on the Board for issuing necessary directions.  Sub­section (2)
13
gives additional power to the Board providing for education,
training,   counselling,   de­addiction   programmes   and   even
restricting the movement of the child, in his interest. Subsection (3) provides that the Board if after the preliminary
assessment under Section 15 passes an order that there is a
need for trial of the child as an adult, then the Board may
order transfer of the trial of such a case to the Children’s
Court having jurisdiction.
23. Section   19   deals   with   the   powers   conferred   on   the
Children’s Court. The Children’s Court upon receipt of the
preliminary assessment from the Board will decide whether
there is need for trial of a child as an adult in accordance with
the Cr.P.C. and pass appropriate orders after trial subject to
the provisions of this section as also section 21. However, if
the Children’s Court feels that there is no need for trial of child
as an adult, then, it may conduct an inquiry as a Board and
pass   appropriate   orders   in   accordance   with   provisions   of
Section 18. Sub­section (2) of section 19 provides that the
Children’s Court will ensure that the final order with regard to
a child in conflict with law will include an individual care plan
14
for rehabilitation of the child including other directions. Under
sub­section (3), the Children’s Court will ensure that a child in
conflict with law remains in a place of safety till he attains the
age of 21 years and thereafter is transferred to jail. Proviso to
sub­section   (3)   ensures   that   reformative   services   including
education,   skill   development,   counselling,   behaviour
modification   therapy   and   psychiatric   support   are   provided
during the period the child is in a place of safety. Under subsection (4), the Children’s Court is to ensure that there is a
periodic   follow   up   report   annually   either   by   the   Probation
Officer   or   the   District   Child   Protection   Unit   or   the   Social
Worker for evaluation of the progress of the child and also to
ensure that there is no ill treatment to the child in any form.
24. Section   20(1)   deals   with   the  powers  of   the   Children’s
Court with respect to the progress and evaluation of the child
even   after   he   attains   the   age   of   21   years   and   has   not
completed the term of stay. Under sub­section (2) of section
20,   the   Children’s   Court   after   completing   the   procedure
provided under sub­section (1) may pass an order either to
release the child on such conditions for the remainder of the
15
prescribed term of stay and or pass an order that the child will
complete the remainder of his term in jail.
25. Section 21 prohibits the sentencing of a child in conflict
with law to death or life imprisonment without the possibility
of release.
26. Under section 22 of the Act, it is mandated that Chapter
VIII of Cr.P.C., and any preventive detention law would not be
applied against any child.
27. Under section 23, there is a bar that a child in conflict
with law would not be tried with the person who is not a child.
28. Under section 24, a protection is provided that a child in
conflict with law will not suffer any disqualification under any
such law on account of offence being established against him.
However, this protection will not be available to the child who
has completed or is above the age of 16 years and is found to
be in conflict with law by the Children’s Court under Section
19(1)(i). Sub­section (2) of section 24 provides for destruction
of records under different situations.
16
29. Section 25 provides that all pending proceedings before
any Board or Court on the date of commencement of this Act
would continue in the same Board or Court as if this Act had
not been enacted.
30. Section 26 makes provisions with respect to run away
children   in   conflict   with   law.   The   above   takes   care   of   the
various provisions contained in Chapter IV dealing with the
procedure in relation to children in conflict with law.
31. Under   the   Juvenile   Justice   (Care   and   Protection   of
Children) Model Rules, 20168
, it is only rule 10(A) which refers
to preliminary assessment into heinous offences by the Board.
Sub­rule (1) mentions that the first thing to be determined by
the Board is the age of the child as to whether he is below or
above the age of 16 years which is to be done as per section 14
of the Act.   Sub­rule (2) mentions that the Board may take
assistance of the experienced psychologists or psycho­social
workers or other experts who have experience of working with
children in difficult circumstances.   It also provides that the
8 Hereinafter referred to as the “Model Rules”
17
District   Child  Protection   Unit  would   have   a   panel   of   such
experts to be made available to the Board for its assistance or
otherwise the Board could access such experts independently.
Sub­rule (3) declares that the child shall be presumed to be
innocent   unless   proved   otherwise   while   making   the
preliminary   assessment.     Sub­rule   (4)   provides   for   the
consequential order to be passed by the Board where it holds
that the trial of the child is to be carried out as an adult for
which, it is required to assign reasons and further to provide
copy of order to the child forthwith.
32. We are not quoting all the provisions referred to above
but only the provisions which are relevant, that are sections 4,
14, 15, 18 and 19 of the Act, 2015, as also rule 10A of the
Model Rules. The same are reproduced below:
“Section 4: Juvenile Justice Board
(1)   Notwithstanding   anything   contained   in
the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the
State Government shall, constitute for every
district, one or more Juvenile Justice Boards
for exercising the powers and discharging its
functions relating to children in conflict with
law under this Act. 
(2) A Board shall consist of a Metropolitan
Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of First
Class   not   being   Chief   Metropolitan
Magistrate   or   Chief   Judicial   Magistrate
(hereinafter   referred   to   as   Principal
18
Magistrate)   with   at   least   three   years
experience and two social workers selected in
such manner as may be prescribed, of whom
at least one shall be a woman, forming a
Bench and every such Bench shall have the
powers   conferred   by   the   Code   of   Criminal
Procedure,   1973   on   a   Metropolitan
Magistrate or, as the case may be, a Judicial
Magistrate of First Class. 
(3) No social worker shall be appointed as a
member of the Board unless such person has
been actively involved in health, education,
or welfare activities pertaining to children for
atleast   seven   years   or   a   practicing
professional   with   a   degree   in   child
psychology, psychiatry, sociology or law. 
(4) No person shall be eligible for selection as
a member of the Board, if he –– (i) has any
past record of violation of human rights or
child   rights;   (ii)   has   been   convicted   of   an
offence involving moral turpitude, and such
conviction has not been reversed or has not
been granted full pardon in respect of such
offence; (iii) has been removed or dismissed
from service of the Central Government or a
State   Government   or   an   undertaking   or
corporation   owned   or   controlled   by   the
Central Government or a State Government;
(iv)   has   ever   indulged   in   child   abuse   or
employment   of   child   labour   or   any   other
violation of human rights or immoral act. 
(5) The State Government shall ensure that
induction   training   and   sensitisation   of   all
members   including   Principal   Magistrate   of
the Board on care, protection, rehabilitation,
legal provisions and justice for children, as
may   be   prescribed,   is   provided   within   a
19
period   of   sixty   days   from   the   date   of
appointment.
(6) The term of office of the members of the
Board   and   the   manner   in   which   such
member may resign shall be such, as may be
prescribed. 
(7) The appointment of any member of the
Board, except the Principal Magistrate, may
be terminated after holding an inquiry by the
State Government, if he –– 
(i)   has   been   found   guilty   of   misuse   of
power vested under this Act; or 
(ii) fails to attend the proceedings of the
Board   consecutively   for   three   months
without any valid reason; or 
(iii) fails to attend less than three­fourths
of the sittings in a year; or 
(iv)   becomes   ineligible   under   sub­section
(4) during his term as a member.
xxx xxx xxx
Section   14.   Inquiry   by   Board   regarding
child in conflict with law.
(1) Where a child alleged to be in conflict
with law is produced before Board, the Board
shall hold an inquiry in accordance with the
provisions of this Act and may pass such
orders in relation to such child as it deems
fit under sections 17 and 18 of this Act. 
(2) The inquiry under this section shall be
completed   within   a   period   of   four   months
from the date of first production of the child
before   the   Board,   unless   the   period   is
extended, for a maximum period of two more
months by the Board, having regard to the
circumstances   of   the   case   and   after
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recording   the   reasons   in   writing   for   such
extension. 
(3)   A   preliminary   assessment   in   case   of
heinous offences under section 15 shall be
disposed of by the Board within a period of
three   months   from   the   date   of   first
production of the child before the Board. 
(4) If inquiry by the Board under sub­section
(2)   for   petty   offences   remains   inconclusive
even   after   the   extended   period,   the
proceedings shall stand terminated: 
Provided   that   for   serious   or   heinous
offences, in case the Board requires further
extension of time for completion of inquiry,
the   same   shall   be   granted   by   the   Chief
Judicial Magistrate or, as the case may be,
the   Chief   Metropolitan   Magistrate,   for
reasons to be recorded in writing. 
(5) The Board shall take the following steps
to ensure fair and speedy inquiry, namely: 
(a) at the time of initiating the inquiry, the
Board   shall   satisfy   itself   that  the   child   in
conflict with law has not been subjected to
any   ill­treatment   by   the   police   or   by   any
other person, including a lawyer or probation
officer and take corrective steps in case of
such ill­treatment; 
(b)   in   all   cases   under   the   Act,   the
proceedings   shall   be   conducted   in   simple
manner as possible and care shall be taken
to ensure that the child, against whom the
proceedings   have   been   instituted,   is   given
child­friendly   atmosphere   during   the
proceedings; 
21
(c) every child brought before the Board
shall be given the opportunity of being heard
and participate in the inquiry; 
(d)   cases   of   petty   offences,   shall   be
disposed of by the Board through summary
proceedings, as per the procedure prescribed
under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973;
(e)   inquiry   of   serious   offences   shall   be
disposed of by the Board, by following the
procedure, for trial in summons cases under
the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973;
(f) inquiry of heinous offences ­  
(i) for child below the age of sixteen
years as on the date of commission of
an offence shall be disposed of by the
Board under clause (e); 
(ii) for child above the age of sixteen
years as on the date of commission of
an offence shall be dealt with in the
manner prescribed under section 15.
Section   15.   Preliminary   assessment   into
heinous offences by Board.
(1) In case of a heinous offence alleged to
have been committed by a child, who has
completed   or   is   above   the   age   of   sixteen
years, the Board shall conduct a preliminary
assessment with regard to his mental and
physical   capacity   to   commit   such   offence,
ability   to   understand   the   consequences   of
the offence and the circumstances in which
he allegedly committed the offence, and may
pass   an   order   in   accordance   with   the
provisions of subsection (3) of section 18: 
22
Provided that for such an assessment, the
Board   may   take   the   assistance   of
experienced   psychologists   or   psycho­social
workers or other experts. 
Explanation—   For   the   purposes   of   this
section,   it   is   clarified   that   preliminary
assessment is not a trial, but is to assess the
capacity   of   such   child   to   commit   and
understand the consequences of the alleged
offence. 
(2)   Where   the   Board   is   satisfied   on
preliminary   assessment   that   the   matter
should be disposed of by the Board, then the
Board shall follow the procedure, as far as
may be, for trial in summons case under the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: 
Provided   that   the   order  of   the   Board   to
dispose   of   the   matter   shall   be   appealable
under sub­section (2) of section 101: 
Provided   further   that   the   assessment
under this section shall be completed within
the period specified in section 14.
xxx xxx xxx
Section  18:  Orders  regarding  child   found
to be in conflict with law.
(1) Where a Board is satisfied on inquiry that
a child irrespective of age has committed a
petty offence, or a serious offence, or a child
below the age of sixteen years has committed
a   heinous   offence,   then,   notwithstanding
anything contrary contained in any other law
for the time being in force, and based on the
nature   of   offence,   specific   need   for
supervision   or   intervention,   circumstances
23
as   brought   out   in   the   social   investigation
report   and   past   conduct   of   the   child,   the
Board may, if it so thinks fit,— 
(a) allow the child to go home after advice or
admonition by following appropriate inquiry
and   counselling   to   such   child   and   to   his
parents or the guardian; 
(b) direct the child to participate in group
counselling and similar activities; 
(c)   order   the   child   to   perform   community
service   under   the   supervision   of   an
organisation   or   institution,   or   a   specified
person,   persons   or   group   of   persons
identified by the Board; 
(d) order the child or parents or the guardian
of the child to pay fine: Provided that, in case
the child is working, it may be ensured that
the provisions of any labour law for the time
being in force are not violated; 
(e)   direct   the   child   to   be   released   on
probation of good conduct and placed under
the   care   of   any   parent,   guardian   or   fit
person,   on   such   parent,   guardian   or   fit
person   executing   a   bond,   with   or   without
surety,   as  the   Board   may  require,   for   the
good behaviour and child’s well­being for any
period not exceeding three years; 
(f) direct the child to be released on probation
of good conduct and placed under the care
and   supervision   of   any   fit   facility   for
ensuring the good behaviour and child’s wellbeing   for   any   period   not   exceeding   three
years; 
24
(g) direct the child to be sent to a special
home, for such period, not exceeding three
years,   as   it   thinks   fit,   for   providing
reformative   services   including   education,
skill   development,   counselling,   behaviour
modification   therapy,   and   psychiatric
support   during   the   period   of   stay   in   the
special home: 
Provided that if the conduct and behaviour
of the child has been such that, it would not
be in the child’s interest, or in the interest of
other children housed in a special home, the
Board may send such child to the place of
safety.
(2) If an order is passed under clauses (a) to
(g)   of   sub­section   (1),   the   Board   may,   in
addition pass orders to— 
(i) attend school; or 
(ii) attend a vocational training centre; or 
(iii) attend a therapeutic centre; or 
(iv)   prohibit   the   child   from   visiting,
frequenting   or   appearing   at   a   specified
place; or 
(v) undergo a de­addiction programme. 
(3)   Where   the   Board   after   preliminary
assessment under section 15 pass an order
that there is a need for trial of the said child
as   an   adult,   then   the   Board   may   order
transfer   of   the   trial   of   the   case   to   the
Children’s   Court   having   jurisdiction   to   try
such offences.
Section 19: Powers of Children’s Court.
25
(1)   After   the   receipt   of   preliminary
assessment   from   the   Board   under   section
15, the Children´s Court may decide that— 
(i) there is a need for trial of the child as an
adult as per the provisions of the Code of
Criminal   Procedure,   1973   and   pass
appropriate orders after trial subject to the
provisions of this section and section 21,
considering the special needs of the child,
the tenets of fair trial and maintaining a
child friendly atmosphere; 
(ii) there is no need for trial of the child as
an adult and may conduct an inquiry as a
Board   and   pass   appropriate   orders   in
accordance with the provisions of section
18.
(2) The Children’s Court shall ensure that
the   final   order,   with   regard   to   a   child   in
conflict with law, shall include an individual
care   plan   for   the   rehabilitation   of   child,
including follow up by the probation officer
or   the   District   Child   Protection   Unit   or   a
social worker. 
(3) The Children’s Court shall ensure that
the child who is found to be in conflict with
law is sent to a place of safety till he attains
the age of twenty­one years and thereafter,
the person shall be transferred to a jail: 
Provided   that   the   reformative   services
including   educational   services,   skill
development,   alternative   therapy   such   as
counselling, behaviour modification therapy,
and psychiatric support shall be provided to
the child during the period of his stay in the
place of safety. 
26
(4) The Children’s Court shall ensure that
there is a periodic follow up report every year
by the probation officer or the District Child
Protection   Unit   or   a   social   worker,   as
required, to evaluate the progress of the child
in   the   place   of   safety   and   to   ensure   that
there is no ill­treatment to the child in any
form. 
(5) The reports under sub­section (4) shall be
forwarded to the Children´s Court for record
and follow up, as may be required.
xxx xxx   xxx
Rule   10A.   Preliminary   assessment   into
heinous offences by Board ­ 
(1)   The   Board   shall   in   the   first   instance
determine   whether   the   child   is   of   sixteen
years of age or above; if not, it shall proceed
as per provisions of section 14 of the Act. 
(2)   For   the   purpose   of   conducting   a
preliminary assessment in case of heinous
offences, the Board may take the assistance
of psychologists or psycho­social workers or
other   experts   who   have   experience   of
working   with   children   in   difficult
circumstances. A panel of such experts may
be   made   available   by   the   District   Child
Protection   Unit,   whose   assistance   can   be
taken   by   the   Board   or   could   be   accessed
independently. 
(3)   While   making   the   preliminary
assessment, the child shall be presumed to
be innocent unless proved otherwise. 
(4)   Where   the   Board,   after   preliminary
assessment   under   section   15   of   the   Act,
27
passes an order that there is a need for trial
of the said child as an adult, it shall assign
reasons for the same and the copy of the
order   shall   be   provided   to   the   child
forthwith.”
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE BOARD
33. In   the   present   case,   it   is   the   preliminary   assessment
made by the Board under section 15 of the Act, 2015, that the
respondent be tried as an adult, is under consideration. 
34. The   Board   on   record   had   the   SIR   submitted   by   the
Probation   Officer   in   the   prescribed   format.   It   had   also
interacted with the respondent on two occasions, firstly, when
he was produced after being apprehended before the Board
and secondly, at the time when it was conducting preliminary
assessment and allowed the respondent to address the Board.
The Board on 22.11.2017 had also called for report from one
expert psychologist. 
35. On   behalf   of   the   respondent,   applications   were   filed
before the Board, to comply with the provision of section 74 of
the Act, 2015; another application was filed to provide the
copy of the SIR, a copy of the psychologist report and to lead
evidence in rebuttal; and a third application was filed praying
28
for deferment of the preliminary assessment till such time the
investigating agency submits its report under rule 10(5) of the
Model Rules. The Board vide order dated 13.12.2017 passed
separate orders on these applications. Firstly, it allowed the
application  under  section  74 to  protect   the  identity  of  the
child. Secondly, it rejected the other two applications. In so far
as the application for providing documents was concerned, the
Board observed that access to the same would be given during
the time of hearing for 30 minutes. The third application for
deferment   of   the   proceedings   was   rejected   simpliciter.   The
Board thereafter proceeded to pass the order of preliminary
assessment on 20.12.2017.
36. Before the Board, the counsel for the respondent had
raised the following arguments:
(i) The   intent   of   legislature   was   never   to   send   all
Juveniles   above   the   age   of   16   years   involved   in
heinous offences to be tried as adults. 
(ii)The   Investigating   agency   had   not   completed   the
investigation and no interim report or final report
had been placed before the Board. 
(iii) There was no compliance of rule 10(5) of the Model
Rules, as such the Board could not proceed with the
29
preliminary assessment under section 15 as it would
be incapacitated to make an assessment.
(iv) Due and adequate opportunity was not provided as
copies   of   the   SIR   and   reports   of   the   expert
psychologists were not supplied to the respondent or
his guardian or counsel.
(v) There   was   no   previous   history   or   criminal
antecedents of the respondent. There was no report
of any previous violence by the respondent.
(vi) Even the reports of the experts were not complete
and   the   recommendation   given   for   further
assessment   by   superior   organization   was   not
resorted to by the Board.
(vii) The expert reports were not conclusive.
(viii)The   SIR   reflected   that   the   respondent   had   good
behavior with friends, teachers and neighbors.
(ix)   Lastly, it was argued that the theory propounded
by the CBI that the crime was committed to get the
examinations   postponed   could   not   have   been   a
probable reason. 
37. The   Board   considered   all   the   submissions   and   after
discussing all the four aspects of section 15 regarding mental
capacity and physical capacity to commit the offence, ability to
understand   the   consequences   of   the   offence   and   the
30
circumstances   under   which   allegedly   the   offence   was
committed, came to the conclusion that respondent should be
tried as an adult and, accordingly, passed an order under
section 18(3). Relevant portion of the Juvenile Justice Board’s
order dated 20.12.2017 is reproduced below: 
“13. It is alleged that on dated 08.09.2017,
Juvenile in conflict with law Bholu in the area
of   P.S.   Bhondsi   committed   the   Murder   of
Master   Prince   in   the   premises   of   Ryan
International School, Bhondsi. On the day of
commission of alleged Act age of Juvenile in
conflict   with   law   was   above   16   years.   It   is
relevant to mention here that for the purpose
of preliminary assessment of Juvenile and to
find   out   what   is   the   physical   and   mental
capacity of juvenile, ability to understand the
consequences of offence by juvenile and the
circumstances   in   which   he   committed   the
alleged offence, the juvenile has been heard
personally by the board on 22.11.2017 and
various   questions   have   been   put   to   him   in
order to assess his capacity to commit and
understand   the   consequences   of   the   acts
which culminated in to registration of present
F.I.R.  against and juvenile in conflict with law
Bholu   gave   answer   to   all   questions   very
confidently. This board can well recall the time
when juvenile in conflict with law produced
before it during personal hearing of juvenile in
conflict   with   law,   he   fairly   explained   the
circumstances in which he committed the acts
resulted in to present inquiry along with the
manner of commission thereof and now during
the   time   of   recording   his   statement   for
preliminary   assessment   when   juvenile   in
conflict   with   law   narrated   a   different   story
excluding his role in the alleged incident well
31
indicates that juvenile in conflict with law also
knows to cook up a story in order to save
himself which in turn goes to show that he
has adequate mental capacity.
***
16. Over all conclusion of Social Investigation
report of Juvenile in conflict with law shows
that he is below average student in studies
but good in music especially in piano. He is
aggressive   in   nature   and   also   shouted   over
other   students.   He   used   to   consume   liquor
and   also   used   mobile   phone   in   school
premises. He is very  short tempered, restless
boy and also lacks stability. Just after alleged
incident he appeared in exam but was upset
and   not   writing   anything   in   exam   and   on
asking by teacher Deepshikha he disclosed to
her that he saw a child was fallen and blood
was coming from his body and due to that
reason   he   was   upset.   Juvenile   also   remain
upset due to quarrel between his parents.
17. As per section 15 of the act in order to
preliminary assessment of juvenile in conflict
with law the board can take the assistance of
any   psychologist   or   any   other   expert.   This
board was of the opinion that in this matter
there is need of assistance of a psychologist
for the preliminary assessment of  juvenile  in
conflict with law so report of psychologist also
sought   in   this   matter.   Dr.   Joginder   Kairo
Clinical Psychologist, P.G.I.M.S., Rohtak in his
report   conducted   two   tests   on   juvenile   in
conflict with law to prepare his report. After
both   tests   he   give   his   finding   that   IQ   of
juvenile in conflict with law noted to be 95 in
the   category   of   average   intellectual
functioning.   I.Q­95   showing   average
intelligence. This report also shows that it is
suggested by the expert that if require further
32
assessment the juvenile in conflict with law
may   be   sent   to   Institute   of   Mental   Health,
University   of   Health   Sciences,   Rohtak.   This
boards   feels   it   not   necessary   to   sent   the
juvenile   to   Institute   of   Mental   Health,
University of Health Sciences, Rohtak for any
further assessment because from the report of
psychologist   it   is   clear   that   I.Q.   level   of
juvenile in conflict with law is average. 
18. After having considered all the record and
having heard both the sides and the juvenile
personally,   this   board   is   of   the   considered
opinion that juvenile in conflict with law Bholu
had sufficient mental and physical capacity to
commit the offence alleged against him and
also he had the adequate ability to understand
the   consequences  of  the  acts  committed  by
him. 
19. Bholu is well built boy and is studied in
11th  class. Juvenile himself  stated  before this
board that he is physically and mentally fit
and not suffering from any kind of disease.
His I.Q. level shows that he is mentally fit
so it can not be said that he did not know
the   consequences   of   acts   alleged   to   be
committed   by   him.   During   the   personal
hearing, juvenile admitted that he confessed
before   this   board   but   same   was   under
pressure of CBI. During his statement he was
asked a specific question that he requested
from this board that he wants to reside with
CBI but he answered that he requested as CBI
asked him to do so. It is not possible that CBI
tortured him, beaten him but despite that he
requested   to   stay   with   CBI   just   on   their
asking. He also stated that he knew very well
that   present   case   registered   upon   him
regarding the murder of a child, he do not
knew this name despite the fact that child also
33
learn music with him. He also stated that he
was the witness of this incident as he saw
Prince   first   in   injured   condition.  From   the
statement   of   juvenile   recorded   during  his
personal assessment, it indicates that he is
mature enough and all these facts satisfied
this board to conclude that juvenile Bholu
was  having   sufficient  maturity  and  ability
to  understand  the  consequences  of   action
on the day of alleged occurrence.
20. In view of the above discussion, this board
of the considered opinion that there is a need
of   trial   of   juvenile   in   conflict   with   law  
Bholu  as  an adult. Consequently, in view of
Section   18(3)   of   Juvenile   Justice   (Care   &
Protection   of   Children)   Act,   2015   the   case
stands   transferred   to   the   Ld.   Special
Children’s Court, Gurugram. Case file be put
up   before   Ld.   District   &   Sessions   Judge,
Gurugram with a request to transfer the same
to Ld. Children Court having jurisdiction to try
the matter. Juvenile in conflict with law Bholu
Singh…   Raghav   is   also   directed   to   produce
before   the   Ld.   District   &   Sessions   Judge,
Gurugram on 22.12.2017. File complete in all
respect be sent to the court of Ld. District &
Sessions Judge, Gurugram well in time.
(emphasis supplied)”
38. In appeal, on behalf of the respondent, similar arguments
were raised before the Children’s Court which also dealt with
the same in detail and approved the decision taken by the
34
Board.     Relevant   portion   of   Children’s   Court’s   order   dated
21.05.2018 is reproduced below:  [
“17…………So impugned order cannot be said
as having been passed without any application
of   mind   and   contrary   to   the   statutory
provisions. The statement of the ‘JCL’ before
the   Board   recorded   for   the   purposes   of
preliminary assessment, the Expert Reports,
the   sequence   of   the   occurrence   running
narrated by the investigating agency all are
well   reflecting   the   mental   and   physical
capacity of the ‘JCL’ and the circumstances in
which he allegedly committed the murder of
‘Prince’   and   his   ability   to   understand   the
consequences of said offence and these all are
straightaway running against the appellant. 
18. It is not out of place to mention here that
an order qua need for trial of child as an adult
required  to   be  passed  by  the  Board  as  per
provisions   contained   under   Section   18(3)   of
the Act after making a preliminary assessment
in case of heinous offences is only on the basis
of satisfaction of the Board by exercising its
judicious acumen for which calling of expert
opinion is also left at his discretion. By adding
explanation to Section 15(1) it is clarified that
preliminary assessment is not a trial. No right
to second appeal is provided under the Act
against  such  an order. It all indicated  that
intention   of   legislation   is   to   recognize   the
wisdom of the Board regarding forum of trial
of a child falling in the age of 16­18 years
running charged with heinous offence. If there
is no blatant misuse of said authority and no
irregularity going to the depth of the matter
the   discretion   exercised   by   the   Board   is
required to be honoured. 
35
19. Before concluding, this court would also
like to comment regarding statutory provisions
contained under Sections 3(x) & 99 of the Act
as   learned   defence   counsel   have   argued   at
length for said provision. As per clause (I) of
Section   99,   all   reports   related   to   child   and
considered   by   the   Committee   or   the  Board
shall be treated as confidential. The proviso
attached   to   this   clause   prescribes   that
Committee or the Board, as the case may be,
may,   if   it   so   thinks   fit,   communicate   the
substance   thereof  to   another  Committee,   or
Board or to the child or to the child’s parent or
guardian, and may give such Committee or
the Board or the child or parent or guardian,
an opportunity of producing evidence as may
be relevant to the matter stated in the report.
Clause (II) of Section 99  then  prescribes that
notwithstanding   anything   contained   in   this
Act, the victim shall not be denied access to
their case record, orders and relevant papers.
Learned   defence   counsel   has   gone   making
much stress over the clause(II) and has gone
asserting that since victim shall not be denied
access to the case record and relevant papers
as   Section   3(x)   while   prescribing   general
principles to be followed in administration of
Act  recognizes  the  principle  of  equality  and
postulates   that   there   shall   be   no
discrimination against a child on any grounds
including  sex, caste and equality of access,
opportunity   and   treatment,   so   child/’JCL’
should also be given a right of access to the
confidential reports also at par with the victim
which Juvenile Justice Board has denied to
the   appellant.   This   court   finds   no
discrimination   with   the   child/’JCL’     by   the
provisions   of   Section   99.   Once   Section   99
declares   all   reports   to   be   treated   as
confidential,   then   they   are   confidential   for
both the parties and even victim would not be
36
having a right to obtain the certified copy of
such a report in the name that victim shall not
be denied access to the case record, orders
and relevant papers. The access to the victim
to confidential reports is not permitted in very
words while granting him access to all other
relevant   papers   and   the   case   record   under
clause (II) of Section 99, so clause (I) of Section
99 will prevail which restricts said access to
all and sundry. Since in the present matter no
copy   of   confidential   report   has   ever   been
supplied to victim, so it does lie in the mouth
of   appellant/’JCL’   that   he   is   being
discriminated   so   far   the   right   to   access   to
confidential reports is concerned.
20.   In   view   of   the   above   discussions,   the
impugned   order   show   that   the   Juvenile
Justice Board has considered the correctness,
legality and propriety of the matter and did
not act with any irregularity at the time giving
findings of fact relating to appellant. There is
no   illegality,   perversity   or   infirmity   in   the
impugned order. The appeal lacks merits and
is   liable   to   be   dismissed.   The  appeal  is,
accordingly, dismissed. Papers be tagged with
the main case file of the trial titled as “State
Vs. Bholu” running fixed for 04.07.2018 for
hearing the parties on the aspect of charge.”
39. The order of the Children’s Court dated 21.05.2018 was
challenged by way of criminal revision before the High Court.
The High Court allowed the criminal revision and after setting
aside   both   the   impugned   orders   passed   by   the   Additional
Sessions Judge as also the Board, remanded the matter to the
37
Board for fresh consideration after assessing the intelligence,
maturity and physical fitness as to how the child in conflict
with law was in a position to know the consequences. It also
provided that the necessary exercise be taken within a period
of six weeks and further that while conducting the preliminary
assessment   the   certificate   of   the  psychologist   of   the
Government hospital be obtained.
40. What weighed before the High Court was: 
(i) There was violation of principles of natural justice
and   fair   play   as   adequate   opportunity   was   not
provided;
(ii) Copies of documents relied upon by the Board were
not provided to the respondent;
(iii) The reports of the experts were incomplete;
(iv) The recommendation by the expert to refer the
child to higher organization for assessment was
not acted upon by the Board;
(v) The   two   tests   conducted   by   the   experts   were
apparently not relevant and related to children of
different ages;
(vi) That the Board and the Children’s Court had no
material   before   them   to   assess   as   to   how   the
respondent knew the consequences of the offence
38
and also the circumstances in which he allegedly
committed the offence; and
(vii)  The findings by the Board and the Children’s
Court were without any material and reasoning.   
41. Relevant extracts from the judgment of the High Court
are as under:
“…The proviso to Section 15 enables the Board to
take   the   assistance   of   any   experienced
psychologist   or   other   experts   to   make   the
Preliminary Assessment. It is clearly mentioned in
para No.17 of order dated 20.12.2017 passed by
the Board that in case, the opinion/assistance of
any expert is required, the same be taken. It is
necessary to assess the mental capacity of the
juvenile. It was mandatory for the Board to assess
the   mental   capacity   of   the   alleged   offender   to
commit such an offence and also the ability to
understand the consequences of the same. It is
also   clear   from   the   order   that   the   clinical
psychologist   has   himself   suggested   that   if   any
further assessment is required, the juvenile may
be   sent   to   the   Institute   of   Mental   Health   at
Rohtak. However, it has completely been ignored
by the Board and the assessment  is based on
inappropriate tests, namely, coloured Progressive
Matrices (CPM) and Malin's Intelligence Scale for
India Children (MISIC) meant for children between
the ages of 5­11½ and 5­15 has been taken as the
basis for the determination of the mental capacity
of a child of 16½ years. Both the Board as well as
the Appellate Authority have completely ignored
this fact. The petitioner wanted to cross examine
the   psychologist   regarding   the   same   but   his
request   was   declined   and   no   permission   was
granted to him. The social investigation report is
also self contradictory and the same is not worth
considering. The copies of the tests, in question,
were   not   provided   to   the
petitioner/parents/guardian but were shown just
39
prior   to   the   hearing   of   arguments.   It   was   not
practically possible to understand 35 pages of the
report by any layman in a time period of less than
30   minutes.   However,   in   a   time   period   of   30
minutes, the petitioner got to have a look at the
record   of   Dr.   Joginder   Singh   Kairo,   Clinic
Psychologist. It came out that he had carried the
assessment   on   the   basis   of   two   tests   i.e   (i)
Coloured   Progressive   Matrices   (CPM)   and   (ii)
Malin's   Intelligence   Scale   for   Indian   Children
(MISIC). The petitioner (represented by his father)
and his counsel were having no idea about these
tests.  Subsequently, they tried to find out and
came to know that those tests were absolutely
irrelevant to the case of the petitioner and could
not be used for making the mental assessment of
the petitioner. The basic book on Clinical Child
Psychology   written   by   Radhey   Sham   and
Azizuddin Khan categorically states that Malin's
test of Intelligence for children is made for 5 to 15
years of children. Since the petitioner was 16.75
years old, when these tests were conducted on
him,   which   were   not   correct   tests   and   have
resulted   in   wrong   results.   Said   expert   himself
stated in his report that it would be appropriate
that   further   assessment   be   made   by   a   higher
authority. This resulted in the petitioner doubting
the   credentials   of   the   so   called   experts.   Only
because   of   this   reason,   the   petitioner  not  only
sought copies of the reports but also wanted to
cross examine them so as to check the veracity
and   the   credentials   of   the   experts   and   their
reports. However, he was not allowed in spite of
specific   request   and   averments   made   to   that
effect, leading to travesty of justice. The IQ test of
the petitioner was conducted when he was more
than 16 years and 9 months of age. An IQ of 95 at
the age 16.75 would necessarily translate to 15.67
years, going by the formula for determining the
mental   age   of   any   child,   which   is   mental
age/Biological  Age x 100. This means that the
petitioner­child  has  been  determined  to  have  a
mental age of less than 16 years as per the report
of so called expert. Even as per said report, the
40
petitioner   had   to   be   necessarily   treated   to   be
below 16 years. As the tests in question, in any
case, are for children below the age of 15 years,
the IQ of 95, determined by these tests, would
obviously translate to a mental age of much less
than 15 years in any case….
                        xxxx
The Appellate Court has further held that there
was no requirement of giving any statement of
witnesses   or   documents   etc.   to   the
petitioner/guardian/parent,   which   is   absolutely
in contradiction with the provisions of Rule 10(5)
read   with   Sections   3(iii)   and   (xvi)   read   with
Section 8(3) of the Act. As a matter of fact, all
provisions of the Act as well as the Rules made
thereunder   have   to   be   read   harmoniously,   to
achieve the objective of the Act. 
However, learned counsel for the respondent­CBI
has tried to convince the Court by stating that the
reports/documents   are   not   required   to   be
supplied   by   considering   the   factum   of
confidentiality. 
The   plea   of   confidentiality   as   submitted   by
learned counsel for the respondent­CBI is actually
for the protection of the child from third party by
considering the privacy of the child. It cannot be
interpreted that a delinquent child would not get a
fair   hearing,   whereas,   it   is   the   requirement   of
Section 8(3) of the Act that the participation of the
child and the parent or guardian is to be at every
step of the process. Section 3 especially states
that a positive interpretation has to be given to
ensure that an environment is created so that the
child should feel comfortable. The confidentiality
is   required   with   regard   to   third   party   just   to
protect the interest of the child. All the reports
related   to   the   child   and   considered   by   the
Committee or by the  Board are required to be
treated as confidential subject to the proviso.
41
Even the Central Bureau of Investigation has also
admitted in the proceedings before the Board as
well as the Appellate Authority that it does not
have such officers, who are specially trained to
undertake such investigation, involving children.
Meaning   thereby,   it   is   clear   that   the   Central
Bureau of Investigation does not have such an
infrastructure   to   conduct   the   investigation   for
reaching to its logical conclusion keeping in view
the special provisons of the Act. All these grounds
were mentioned before the Appellate Authority but
were not taken into consideration. 
The argument raised by learned counsel for the
respondent­CBI   that   this   Court   has   a   limited
jurisdiction to invoke in the revision petition, does
not carry any weight because as per provisions of
Section   102   of   the   Act,   in   case,   there   is   any
illegality   and   perversity   or   there   is   noncompliance of mandatory provisions, this Court
has a power to exercise the revisional jurisdiction.
This   view   has   been   supported   by   the   law   laid
down in cases Jagannath Choudhary vs Ramayan
Singh 2002(2) RCR (Criminal) 813 and Rajinder
Singh vs Vishal Dingra 2015(8) RCR (Criminal)
453.
In view of the facts and law position as discussed
above,   the   present   petition   is   allowed   and
impugned order dated 20.12.2017 passed by the
Juvenile   Justice   Board,   Gurugram   and   order
dated   21.05.2018   passed   by   the   Additional
Sessions Judge, Gurugram are set aside. The case
is   remanded   back   to   the   Board   for   afresh
consideration   after   assessing   the   intelligency,
maturity, physical fitness as to how the juvenile
in conflict with law was in a position to know the
consequences   of   the   offence.   The   necessary
exercise be done within a period of six weeks from
the date of receipt of certified copy of the order. It
is   also   relevant   to   mention   here   that   while
conducting preliminary assessment, the opinion
of   psychologist   of   the   Government   hospital   be
obtained.”
42
ARGUMENTS ON BEHALF OF COMPLAINANT­APPELLANT:
42. The arguments of Mr. Sushil Tekriwal, learned counsel
on behalf of the complainant­appellant are summarised below:
(i) ‘Best interest of child’ or ‘presumption of innocence’
etc. does not mean immunity from criminal charges.
Intent of the act is to reform the child in conflict
with   law   and   also   to   subject   them   to   penal
consequences.
(ii)   Children aged 16­18, prosecuted for heinous
crimes   have   been   assigned   a   separate   class   by
legislature,   therefore,   they   may   be   denied   the
protective cover.  The purpose of this Act is not to
give shelter to accused of heinous offences. 
(iii) The respondent fulfils all the conditions laid
down under section 15 of the Act, 2015 and the
Board had rightly held that he should be tried as
an adult.
(iv)  Law is clear that the Board ‘may’ take help of
experienced   psychologists,   psycho­social   workers
or other experts. The word ‘may’ has to be read as
‘may’ only and the legislative competency to make
43
the enactment in question is not in controversy.
Even section 101(2) of the Act, 2015 uses the word
‘may’ with respect to opinion of medical expert. 
(v) Findings of the Medical Board should have been left
to medical experts as Courts have no expertise in
such matters. The opinion of the Medical Board is
final and cannot be questioned before the Court.
(vi) Social and medical report was provided to all the
stakeholders.   However,   the   request   for   crossexamination   was   declined   on   the   ground   that
section 15 is only a preliminary assessment and
not a trial. Further, according to section 99 of the
Act,   2015   all   the   reports   related   to   the   child
considered by the Board be treated as confidential. 
(vii) Revisional jurisdiction of the  High Court under
section 102 is limited with regard to the power to
call for and examine the records of an inferior
Court in order to satisfy itself of the legality and
propriety of proceedings or orders made in cases.  
(viii) There is no illegality in concurrent findings of
the two Courts below. The High Court broadened
its jurisdiction too far, going into correctness of
44
the medical board report and the correctness of
various other factual aspects. 
(ix)The   issue   of   remanding   the   case   for   fresh
consideration   is   redundant   now   in   terms   of   its
impossibility of performance. 
(x) In support of the above submissions, Mr. Tekriwal
has placed reliance on the following judgments: 
(a) Kishan Paswan v. UOI (Civil Misc. W.P. No.
5044 of 2020){paras 28(97) and 35 (v)},
(b) Mukarrab v. State of UP, (2017) 2 SCC 210
(para 27),
(c)   Controller   of   Defense   Accounts   (Pension)
and ors. v. S. Balachandran Nair (2005) 13
SCC 128,
(d)  Amit   Kapoor   v.   Ramesh   Chander  &   Anr
(2012) 9 SCC 469 (paras 12 and 13),
(e)  Rajendra Rajoriya v. Jagat Narain Thapak
and Anr (2018) 17 SCC 234,
(f)  Jabar Singh v. Dinesh (2010) 3 SCC 757, 
(g) Chandavarkar Sita Ratna Rao v. Ashalata
S. Guram (1986) 4 SCC 447,
(h)  Madanlal   Fakirchand   Dudheya   v.   S.
Changdeo Sugar Mills, 1962 AIR 1543,
(i) Chinnamar Kathiam v. Ayyavoo, AIR 1982
SC 137,
(j) Jyoti Prakash Rai @ Jyoti Prakash v. State
of Bihar, (2008) 15 SCC 223 and 
(k) Kent v. United States (383, US, 541, 1966).
45
ARGUMENTS ON BEHALF OF CBI­APPELLANT:
43. The   arguments   of   Shri   Vikramjit   Banerjee,  learned
Additional Solicitor General on behalf of the CBI­appellant are
summarised below: 
(i) The   counsel   for   the   CBI   drew   attention   to   the
Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act, 2015,
wherein   the   systems   under   the   Act,   2000   are
deemed   as   ill­equipped   to   tackle   16­18   year   old
offenders,   and   an   observation   about   a   rapid
increase in heinous child offenders of the said age is
also elucidated upon.
(ii)The counsel also highlighted the provisions under
section   15   of   the   said   Act   which   provide   for
preliminary assessment on commission of heinous
crimes by children above 16 years to be conducted
by the Board, which ‘may’ take the assistance of
experienced psychologists, psycho­social workers, or
other experts. 
(iii) It   was   also   submitted   that   this   preliminary
assessment is distinct from a trial. 
46
(iv) The counsel also referred to section 103 of the Act,
2015, which lays down the requirement to follow as
far as possible, procedure laid down by the Cr.P.C.,
during Board inquiries for trials of summons cases.
(v)   The counsel accentuated rules 10 and 10A of the
Model Rules. Rule 10A permits the Board to take
assistance   from   psychological   experts   and   social
workers   while   making   the   preliminary   assessment
which has been followed by the Board. 
(vi) Rule 10(5) which mandates the Child Welfare Police
Officer   to   produce   the   statements   of   witnesses
recorded   by   him   and   other   documents   produced
during the course of investigation within a month
from the date of the child’s first production before the
Board. Copies of the same to be given to the child or
his   parent/guardian,   were   also   brought   forth   and
highlighted. 
(vii) There is no requirement under the Act, 2015 for the
final   investigation   to   be   completed   before   the
preliminary assessment takes place. Moreover, the
Act, 2015 necessitates abidance by the Cr.P.C. to the
maximum extent, therefore, in line with the same,
47
the accused cannot be provided with the case diary
during   investigation.   Reference   is   also   made   to
section 99 of the Act, 2015 regarding confidentiality.
Hence, the counsel contends that rule 10(5) of the
Model Rules must be read down. The High Court
committed an error in holding otherwise.
(viii) For   the   preliminary  assessment,  the   Board   must
consider the mental and physical capacity of the child
to commit the offence, and this assessment has to be
completed   within   three   months   of   the   child’s   first
production   before   the   Board   after   which,   a   reassessment is impermissible. 
(ix) The judgement of the High Court was also attacked
by   asserting   that   the   requirement   for   crossexamination  of the psychologist, and supply of the
expert’s reports to the respondent or his guardians
prior to the passing of the preliminary assessment was
erroneous. 
(x)The requirement to complete the investigation within a
month from the first date of production of the child
before the Board and to supply a copy of the final
report to the child or his parents, prior to the making
48
of  the   preliminary  assessment  was  also  called  into
doubt. 
(xi) The CBI attempted to prove its proper conduct by
asserting that Bholu was treated in a child­friendly
manner, and examined in line with the Act, 2015 and
was apprehended in the presence of his father and
other requisite authorities.
(xii) The CBI claims that Bholu was interviewed in a
cautious and friendly manner, in the presence of the
Probation   and   Child   Welfare   Officer,   along   with
independent   witnesses.   Moreover,   he   voluntarily
admitted his involvement in the murder of Prince, and
was   sent   to   an   Observation   Home,   post   his
apprehension, instead of being held in a lock up.
(xiii) Since the CBI was not able to satisfactorily complete
its   investigation,   the   Board   granted   three   days   of
judicial   custody   of   Bholu,   wherein   he   was   to   be
accompanied by a Board member, and placed at Seva
Kutir (Observation Home), post his custody.
(xiv) In support of the above submissions, Mr. Vikramjit
Bannerji   has   placed   reliance   on   the   following
judgments:
49
(a)Balkaram v. State of Uttarakhand & Ors. (2017)
7SCC 668,
(b)Shilpa   Mittal   v.   State   of   NCT   &   Another,   Crl.
Appeal No. 34 of 2020,
(c) G. Sundarrajan v. Union of India & Ors. (2013) 6
SCC 620.
ARGUMENTS ON BEHALF OF RESPONDENT­BHOLU:
44. The arguments of Mr. Siddharth Luthra, learned Senior
Advocate on behalf of the respondent are summarised below: 
(i)   The   essential   modification   in   the   Act,   2015   is   the
exception created for the age of 16 to 18 years. In cases of
heinous offences, as defined under section 2(33) of the
Act, 2015, a child can be treated as an adult subject to
the inquiry to be carried out in terms of sections 14 and
15. This Court held that, while interpreting the scheme of
the Act, the interests of children should be protected and
to treat them as adults is an exception to the rule.
(ii)  While conducting an inquiry under the Act, the Board
has to keep in mind the overall scheme of the Act.
(iii)   The Act, 2015 provides that the Investigating Officer
must be a trained Police Officer, capable of dealing with
50
children and designated as a Child Welfare Police Officer
(CWPO). However, in this case the IO was not a designated
CWPO under the Act. Section 107 further requires the
creation of a special juvenile police unit to “exclusively
deal with the children” and with “aptitude, appropriate
training and orientation”.  
(iv) The child was kept in police lock­up and subsequently a
confession was extracted from him which was relied upon
by the Board. The same is contrary to rule 8(3)(v) and to
the principle of presumption of innocence enshrined under
section 3(i) of the Act, 2015 read with rule 10 A (3) of the
Model Rules. 
(v)   Due to the non­submission of documents to the child
prior to the hearing, sections 8(3)(a) and 8(3)(b), section
14(5)(c)   as   well   as   section   3   of   the   Act,   2015   were
violated.   Additionally,   granting   only   30   minutes   was
insufficient to peruse and scan through the record.
(vi) On   the   date   of   the   psychological   assessment,   the
respondent was aged 16 years and 7 months. However,
the   tests   administered   to   him   were   appropriate   for
children   upto   11   years   (CPM)   and   15   years   (Malins).
According to the psychologist, Dr Kairo, the respondent
51
was found to be cooperative and communicative. On the
basis of the tests administered his IQ was noted to be 95,
and it was further noted “If required further assessment,
he may be sent to Institute of Mental Health, University
of Health Sciences, Rohtak.”
(vii)  The   entitlement   of   respondent   to   access   the   records
before   the   preliminary   assessment   takes   place,   is
challenged by the appellants under section 99 of the Act,
2015. Section 14(5)(c) provides that every child brought
before   the   Board   shall   be   heard   and   permitted   to
participate in the inquiry and rule 10(5) states that a
copy of the statement of witnesses recorded by him shall
also be given to the child or parent or guardian of the
child.
(viii)    Reliance   has   been   placed   on   the   statement   of   the
Hon’ble Minister for Women and Child Development in the
Lok Sabha during the discussion on the Juvenile Justice
(Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 stating that
the assessment of the Board is not one­sided and the
Board will take due notice of the views of the child.
(ix)  With respect to the plea of CBI to read down rule 10(5) of
the Model Rules, the counsel submitted that reading down
52
the said rule was not raised before the High Court or this
Court   before   filing   of   the   written   submissions.
Alternatively, a provision can be read down to save it from
being declared unconstitutional or illegal, which is not so
in  the  present   case.  There  being  no  challenge towards
constitutionality, any attempt towards this would be in
conflict with the objects of the Act.
(x) By using words such as “clever” and reading the alleged
confession   against   him   being   a   complete   violation   of
Article 20(3), the Board has clearly gone contrary to the
principle   of   presumption   of   innocence   provided   under
section 3(i) of the Act, 2015 read with rule 10A(3) Model
Rules and section 3(viii) which mandates that there shall
be no adversarial or accusatory words used in involving a
child.
(xi) The Board failed to take into account the statement of the
respondent that CBI called him inside, beat him up and
asked him to speak and erroneously concluded that the
respondent had sufficient mental and physical capacity to
commit the offence.
(xii)  In   the   order   dated   20.12.2017,   the   Board   read   the
confession of the respondent against him but later the
53
Board   stated   that   at   this   stage   it   is   not   to   be   seen
“whether juvenile in conflict with law is guilty or not, he
confessed or not, if confessed then it was voluntary or
under pressure.”
(xiii)  The   circumstances   in   which   the   child   allegedly
committed the offence were not put before the Board nor
was   the   charge­sheet   placed   to   enable   it   to   form   its
opinion.
(xiv)  The word “may'' occurring in section 15 and section
101(2) has to be construed as “shall”. 
(xv) It is to be noted that neither the SIR nor the report of Dr.
Joginder Kairo indicate the mental age of the child. Dr.
Kairo had advised a further assessment but the same was
not done and the Board went ahead with determining the
age of the child.
(xvi)  Section 102 of the Act allows for exercise of revisional
jurisdiction on the grounds of legality and propriety. The
High Court correctly noted the perversity in reasoning of
the Board and the Sessions Court, consequently it rightly
set aside the aforementioned orders.
(xvii)   Respondent   continues   to   remain   in   the   observation
home and has completed 4.5 years in custody. During his
stay he has interacted with people from all walks of life and
54
was accused of different heinous offences. It would not be
possible to assess his mental and physical capacity and
understanding at this stage. It would be in the interest of
justice that he may be treated as a child and not as an
adult, since he has lost his valuable right under sections 14
and 15 of the Act, 2015.
(xviii) In support of the above submissions, Mr. Luthra has
placed reliance on the following judgments: ­
(a)Shilpa  Mittal   v.  State   of  NCT  &   Another,   Crl.
Appeal No. 34 of 2020(paras 1, 30, 31 and 34),
(b) Bachahan   Devi   &   Anr.   v.   Nagar   Nigam,
Gorakhpur, (2008) 12 SCC 372),
(c) Ankush   Shivaji   Gaikwad   v.   State   of
Maharashtra   (2013)   6SCC   770   (paras   52   and
53),
(d)State   of   Bank   of   Travancore   v.   Mohammed
Mohammed Khan (1981) 4 SCC 82 (paras 19 to
23)
(e) Som  Prakash  Rekhi  v.  Union of   India  (1981)  1
SCC 449 (para 63)
(f) Pratap  Singh   v.   State   of  Jharkhand,  (2005)  3
SCC 551 (Paras 7 and 10),
(g) Salil  Bali  v.  Union  of   India  &  Another,  (2013)
7SCC 705 (paras 43 and 63),
55
(h)Province of Bombay v. Kusaldas S. Advani, 1950
SCR 621 (para 16)
(i) State   of   Andhra   Pradesh   v.   A.P.  Wakf   Board,
2022 SCC Online SC159 (para 143),
(j) Superintendent   &   Remembrancer   of   legal
affairs  West Bengal v. Satyen Bhowmik, (1981)
2SCC 109 (paras 20 to 22),
(k)Nitya Dharamananda v. Gopal Sheelum Reddy,
(2018) 2SCC 93 (paras 5 to 9),
(l) In   re:   Criminal   Trials   Guidelines   regarding
inadequacies   and   Deficiencies   v.   State   of
Andhra   Pradesh   and   ors.   (2021)   10   SCC   598
(para 11),
(m) Union of India v. IND­Swift Laboratories Limited
(2011) 4SCC 635,
(n)  Nazir   Ahmad   v.  King   Emperor  1936   ILR  372
(pg. 378 to 383)
(o) The King v. Saw Min, 1938 SCC Online Rang 68
(pg. 1,10)
(p)Mahabir Singh v. State of Haryana (2001) 7scc
148 (pg. 19,21,22)
(q)  Opto   Circuit   India   Ltd.   v.   Axis   Bank   (2021)
6SCC 707 (para 14) 
(r)   Aloke  Nath  Dutta  &  Ors.   v.   State   of   Bengal,
(2007) 12 SCC 230 (para 104)
56
(s) Sharat Babu Diguamarti v. NCT of Delhi, (2017)
2 SCC 18 (para 37),
(t)  Philips India Ltd. v. Labour Court (1985) 3SCC
103 (paras 15 to17)
(u)  Municipal  Corporation  of  Delhi   v.  Girdharilal
Sapru, (1981) 2 SCC 758 (para 5)
(v) Ramgopal  Ganpatrai  Ruia  v.  State  of  Bombay,
1958 SCR 618 (para 15)
(w) Emperor   v.   N.G.   Chatterji,   ILR   1946   ALL
553 (paras 5 to 8, 10, 14),
(x)Krishnan v. Krishnaveni (1997) 4SCC 241 (para
8)
(y) Rajeshwar Singh v. Subrata Roy Sahara (2013)
14 SCC 257 (Para 26);
(z)  Ashok Kumar Gupta v State of U.P. 1994 Supp
(1) SCC 145 (Paras 58­60); 
(aa) Union   Carbide   Corp.   v.   Union   of   India
(1991) 4 SCC 584 (Para 83) and; 
(bb) On   molding   of   relief   –   M.   Siddiq   (Dead)
Through   Legal   Representative   (Ram
Janmabhumi   Temple   Case)   v.   Mahant   Suresh
Das   &   Ors.   (2020)   1   SCC   1   (Para   1024,
1026)
57
ANALYSIS:
EFFECT OF AN ORDER OF PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT 
45. The order of preliminary assessment decides whether the
child in conflict with law, falling in the age bracket of 16­18
years and having committed heinous offence, is to be tried as
an   adult   by   the   Children’s   Court   or   by   the   Board   itself,
treating him to be a child. There are two major consequences
provided in the Act, 2015, if the child is tried as an adult by
the   Children’s   Court.   First,   that   the   sentence   or   the
punishment can go up to life imprisonment if the child is tried
as an adult by the Children’s Court, whereas if the child is
tried by the Board as a child, the maximum sentence that can
be awarded is 3 years. The second major consequence is that
where the child is tried as a child by the Board, then under
section 24(1), he would not suffer any disqualification attached
to the conviction of an offence, whereas the said removal of
disqualification would not be available to a child who is tried
as an adult by the Children’s Court, as per the proviso to
section   24(1).   Another   consequence,   which   may   also   have
serious repercussions, is that as per section 24(2), where the
Board or the Children’s Court, after the case is over, may
direct the police or the registry that relevant records of such
58
conviction   may   be   destroyed   after   the   period   of   expiry   of
appeal or a reasonable period as may be prescribed. Whereas,
when a child is tried as an adult, the relevant records shall be
retained by the relevant Court, as per the proviso to section
24(2).
46. These consequences are serious in nature and have a
lasting effect for the entire life of the child. It is well settled
that any order that has serious civil consequences, reasonable
opportunity must be afforded. The question is of what would
be a reasonable opportunity in a case where a preliminary
assessment is to be made by the Board under section 15.
SOCIAL INVESTIGATION REPORT (SIR)
47. Preparation of SIR is a statutory requirement for every
child in  conflict with  law,  which is to be prepared by the
Probation Officer or any other agency as may be directed by
the Board.  Its format is also provided in Form 6 to the Model
Rules. The object of getting an SIR prepared is to obtain as
much as possible information about the background of the
child.   It   has  as   many   as  48  columns   to   be   filled  up   and
thereafter, the Probation Officer is to submit his opinion also.
In   the   present   case,   the   SIR   was   submitted   by   the   Legal
59
Probation   Officer   on   27.11.2017.     The   SIR   is   a   relevant
material to be considered by the Board to take a decision while
passing   any   orders   regarding   bail   or   after   inquiry   or
preliminary assessment.
PSYCHOLOGIST’S REPORT
48. The   report   of   the   psychologist   dated   05.12.2017   only
spells out the IQ of the child to be 95 and also that further
assessment, if required, could be made. The relevant extracts
from the aforementioned report are reproduced hereunder.
“xxx     xxx xxx
For   assessment   of   his   mental   capacity,
assessment was carried out. 
Impression: IQ ­ 95, average intelligence.
xxx          xxx   xxx
If required further assessment, he may be sent
to the Institute of Mental Health, University of
Health Sciences, Rohtak.
xxx           xxx   xxx”
49. A perusal of the above report clearly mentions that it was
only for the purpose of assessing the mental capacity of the
child.  The report did not mention anything about the child’s
knowledge   of   the   consequences   of   committing   the   alleged
60
offence, nor did it mention about the circumstances leading to
the alleged offence.  No such assessment was carried out as,
apparently the Board only required the opinion on the mental
capacity of the child.
NATURAL JUSTICE/REASONABLE OPPURTUNITY
50. The Board and the Children’s Court have relied upon
section 99 of the Act, 2015 to hold that they were not required
to provide the copies of the material on record available in the
form of SIR, the report of the psychologist, and other material.
On the other hand, the High Court relied upon rule 10(5) of
the Model Rules to hold that the documents ought to have
been provided to the child or his guardian or his lawyer as the
case may be, and this having not been done, it was a case
where reasonable opportunity had been denied. 
51. Section 99 provides that all reports relating to the child
and   considered   by   the   Committee   or   the   Board   are   to   be
treated as confidential. The proviso to section 99(1) gives the
power to the Committee or the Board to communicate the
substance thereof to another Committee or Board or the child,
his parents or guardian, and may also give such Committee or
Board or the child or parent or guardian, an opportunity to
61
produce evidence as may be relevant to the matter stated in
the report. Section 99(2) states that the victim would not be
denied   access   to   the   case   record,   relevant   documents   and
papers. 
52. Maintaining confidentiality has a different purpose but in
no case can it be said that to maintain confidentiality, the
relevant material would not be provided to the child or his
guardian or parents. It would be in complete contravention of
the settled principles of criminal jurisprudence. Concept of
confidentiality used in section 99 is to prevent the reports from
coming in public domain or shared in public. Its availability
will be confined to the parties to the proceedings and the
parties should also refrain from sharing it with third parties.
Section   99(2)   begins   with   the  non   obstante  clause   and
proceeds to direct that the victim should not be denied access
to   the   case   report,   orders   and   relevant   papers.   Once   the
legislature’s intention is to provide material to the victim there
could never be an intention in the name of confidentiality to
deny such access to the records to the child or his parents or
guardians.  The Board and the Children’s Court committed an
62
illegality   in   not   providing   the   documents   as   demanded   by
misinterpreting section 99 of the Act, 2015. 
53. In the present case, the SIR and the report of the expert
psychologist was not provided to the respondent or his parents
or   guardians.   An   application   was   filed   on   behalf   of   the
respondent for supplying such material which was denied by
the Board by a detailed order dated 13.12.2017. The Board
only extended the liberty to the counsel and the parent or the
guardian to look into these reports for 30 minutes before the
hearing commenced. 
54. It   has   been   argued   on   behalf   of   the   respondent   that
firstly, these documents ought to have been provided to them;
and secondly, half an hour was too little a time to go through
the contents of the voluminous SIR (running into 35 pages)
which contained several statements; and thirdly, they had no
opportunity   to   lead   evidence   in   rebuttal   by   way   of   crossexamination or submitting documents.
55. Another   violation   of   principles   of   natural
justice/opportunity addressed on behalf of the respondent was
on the report of the psychologist, which only provided the IQ
level of the child and nothing more. An application was also
63
filed on behalf of the respondent to lead evidence in rebuttal to
the   report   of   the   psychologist   and   to   cross­examine   the
psychologist as the tests applied by the psychologist in his
report were not the relevant tests for a child aged 16.5 years.
The tests applied were applicable to children up to the age of
15 years. This request made on behalf of the respondent was
also denied by the Board by a detailed order dated 13.12.2017.
56. Another aspect urged on behalf of the respondent was to
the   effect   that   the   report   of   the   psychologist
suggested/recommended that the child may be got examined
further by the Institute of Mental Health, University of Health
Sciences, Rohtak. According to the learned counsel for the
respondent,   the   Board   committed   an   error   by   not   getting
further examination carried out by a superior institution. Once
the psychologist carrying out the tests had given a report and
he was himself not sure of his own report and had suggested
for assessment by a superior institution, the Board ought to
have obtained further report. 
57. Yet   another   aspect   which   goes   to   violation   of   a   fair
opportunity was, rejection of the application filed on behalf of
the respondent before the Board to defer the proceedings of
64
preliminary assessment till such time the compliance of rule
10(5) of the Model Rules is not made. The material collected by
the Child Welfare Police Officer in the form of statement of
witnesses   and   other   documents   during   the   course   of
investigation which was to be made within a period of one
month, ought to have been awaited and a copy of the same
should have been provided to the respondent or his parents or
guardian as this would be relevant for preliminary assessment.
58. In   view   of   the   above,   the   argument   of   Mr.   Vikramjit
Banerjee, learned counsel for CBI, on two counts needs to be
rejected. Firstly, rule 10(5) of the Model rules should be read
down as being in conflict with section 99 of the Act, 2015 and
secondly, that no material collected during investigation could
be provided to the accused till such time the police report
under section 173(2) Cr.P.C. is filed and the cognizance is
taken by the Magistrate under section 190 and the stage of
section 207/208 Cr.P.C. is reached. The Act, 2015, being a
special   Act,   will   have   an   overriding   effect   over   general
procedure prescribed under the Cr.P.C.. The provisions of the
Cr.P.C. would be applicable so long and so far as they are not
65
in conflict with the special provisions contained in the Act,
2015.
TIMELINE
59. There is a timeline provided for the inquiry, submission
of   the   SIR,   preliminary   assessment   and   the   investigation
under the Act, 2015 and the Model Rules:
i. The inquiry by the Board under section 14(1) is to be
completed within a period of four months from the date of
first   production   of   the  child   before  the   Board,   and   it
could be extended by a period of two more months by the
Board for the reasons to be recorded as per section 14(2).
ii. Section   14(3)   provides   that   a   preliminary   assessment
under section 15 should be disposed of by the Board
within a period of three months from the date of first
production of the child before the Board.  
iii. Under section 14(4) it is provided that if the inquiry by
the Board under section 15 for petty offences remains
inconclusive   even   after   the   extended   period,   the
proceedings shall stand terminated.  
iv. Under   the   proviso   to   section   14(4)   dealing   with   the
serious or heinous offences, in case the Board requires
66
further period of time for completion of inquiry, the same
may be granted by the Chief Judicial Magistrate or, as
the case may be, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, for
reasons to be recorded. 
v. Under   section   8(3)(e),   SIR   is   to   be   submitted   by   the
Probation Officer or the Child Welfare Officer or a social
worker within a period of fifteen days from the date of
first production of the child before the Board.  
vi. In   rule   10(5)   of   the   Model   Rules,   in   case   of   heinous
offences committed by a child between the age of 16 to 18
years, the Child Welfare Police Officer shall produce the
statement   of   witnesses   recorded   by   him   and   other
documents prepared during the course of investigation
within   a   period   of   one   month   from   the   date   of   first
production of the child before the Board.  
60. The   timeline   given   under   the   various   provisions   as
referred to above, has a rationale. The SIR to be submitted
within   fifteen   days   would   facilitate   the   Board   in   taking   a
decision on the request for bail at the earliest.  The period of
one month given under rule 10(5) is to facilitate the Board to
take   a   decision   may   be   on   a   pending   bail   matter   or   for
preliminary   assessment   for   which   three   months’   time   is
67
provided.  The completion of inquiry within four months or any
extended period is to ensure that a child is not subjected to
unnecessary long and lengthy processes of trials and inquiries
and that the matter is taken to its logical conclusion at the
earliest.  
61. In the present case, despite request of the respondent to
defer the preliminary assessment till such time as the material
under rule 10(5) was provided, was rejected by the Board on
13.12.2017 and the Board proceeded to make an order of
preliminary   assessment   within   a   week   thereafter   on
20.12.2017. The child had been taken into custody and was
produced before the Board for the first time on 08.11.2017.
The three months’ period for preliminary assessment would
have continued till 07.02.2018.  The Board could have, rather
ought to have, waited for the report and material under rule
10(5) of the Model Rules.   Similarly, once the report of the
psychologist suggested that if further examination is required
then   the   respondent   ought   to   have   been   referred   to   a
specialised institute in Rohtak but this suggestion was also
not accepted by the Board without cogent reason.  
68
PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT
62. The obligation of the Board in making the preliminary
assessment on the four counts mentioned in section 15 of the
Act is largely dependent upon the wisdom of the Board without
there being any guidelines as to how the Board would conduct
such   preliminary   assessment.   In   the   absence   of   any   such
framework or guidelines, the Board has to use its discretion in
taking into consideration whatever material it deems fit for
assessing the four attributes.  
(a)In the present case, the Board and the Children’s Court,
relying upon the statement given by the child at the time
of   first   appearance   before   the   Board,   the   second
statement given by the child at a later stage, the SIR and
the report of the psychologist indicating an IQ level of 95,
have held that the respondent had the mental capacity
to commit the offence.  
(b) Insofar as the physical capacity is concerned, the Board
and the Children’s Court have taken into consideration
the built of the child and his age to hold that he had the
69
physical capacity to commit the nature of the alleged
assault. 
(c)The Board relied upon the fact that the respondent was
studying in class 11th; he had stated that he is physically
and mentally fit and not suffering from any disease; his
IQ level shows that he is mentally fit and as such  it
cannot   be   said   that   he   did   not   know   the
consequences of the alleged offence to be committed
by him.  From the statement of the respondent recorded
during his personal assessment, it was indicated that he
was mature enough. All these facts satisfied the Board
that   the   respondent  was  having   sufficient  maturity
and   ability   to   understand   the   consequences   of   his
action.  
(d)  The order of the Board does not anywhere refer to its
assessment  regarding   the   circumstances   in   which   the
respondent allegedly committed the offence.   However,
what appears is that the Board relied upon the SIR.  
63. In the present case, the Board and the Children’s Court
relied heavily on the psychologist’s report which only reflected
the IQ of the respondent to be of average level bearing a score
70
of 95 to hold that the respondent had the mental capacity to
commit the offence and also ability to know the consequences
of the offence.  The Board and the Children’s Court both have
also recorded that the recommendation of the psychologist to
send the respondent for further assessment to the Institute of
Mental Health, University of Health Sciences, Rohtak was not
necessary   as,   according   to   them,   the   IQ   findings   were
sufficient for them to arrive at the preliminary assessment.  
64. Section 15 and rule 10A provide that the Board may take
the   assistance   of   psychologists,   psycho­social   workers,   or
other experts who had experience of working with children in
difficult circumstances. According to the learned counsel for
the appellants, the word ‘may’ should be read as ‘may’ only
i.e.,   the   Board   in   its   discretion   may   or   may   not   take   the
assistance   of   such   experts   whereas   on   behalf   of   the
respondent, it has been strenuously contended that the word
‘may’ should be read as ‘shall’ and it should be mandatory for
the Board to take opinion or assistance from such experts
before   passing   an   order   of   preliminary   assessment.     This
aspect is dealt with at a later stage.
71
65. While considering a child as an adult one needs to look at
his/her   physical   maturity,   cognitive   abilities,   social   and
emotional competencies. It must be mentioned here that from
a  neurobiological  perspective,  the  development   of  cognitive,
behavioural attributes like the ability to delay gratification,
decision   making,   risk   taking,   impulsivity,   judgement,   etc.
continues until the early 20s. It is, therefore, all the more
important that such assessment is made to distinguish such
attributes between a child and an adult. 
66. Cognitive maturation is highly dependent on hereditary
factors. Emotional development is less likely to affect cognitive
maturation. However, if emotions are too intense and the child
is   unable   to   regulate   emotions   effectively,   then   intellectual
insight/knowledge may take a back seat.
67. We are in agreement with the reasoning given by the High
Court that further assessment ought to have been carried out
once   the   psychologist   had   recommended   so   and   had   also
suggested   the   name   of   the   institute.     The   Board   and   the
Children’s Court apparently were of the view that the mental
capacity and the ability to understand the consequences of the
offence were one and the same, that is to say that if the child
72
had   the   mental   capacity   to   commit   the   offence,   then   he
automatically   had   the   capacity   to   understand   the
consequences of the offence.  This, in our considered opinion,
is a grave error committed by them.
68. The   language   used   in   section   15   is   “the   ability   to
understand the consequences of the offence”.  The expression
used is in plurality i.e., “consequences” of the offence and,
therefore,   would   not   just   be   confined   to   the   immediate
consequence   of   the   offence   or   that   the   occurrence   of   the
offence would only have its consequence upon the victim but it
would also take within its ambit the consequences which may
fall upon not only the victim as a result of the assault, but also
on the family of the victim, on the child, his family, and that
too not only immediate consequences but also the far­reaching
consequences   in   future.   Consequences   could   be   in
material/physical form but also affecting the mind and the
psychology   of   the   child   for   all   times   to   come.     The
consequences of the offence could be numerous and manifold
which cannot be just linked to a framework; and, for this
purpose, the overall picture as also future consequences with
73
reference to the facts of the case are required to be consciously
analysed by the Board.
69. Consequences   for   the   victim   could   be   his   death,   or
permanent physical disability, or an injury which could be
repaired or recovered; the impact of the offence on the mind of
the victim may be prolonged and continue for his lifetime; the
impact on the family and friends of the victim, both mental
and   financial;   consequence   on   the   child   going   into
incarceration;   mental   impact   on   the   child,   it   could   be
repentance or remorse for life, the social stigma cast on the
child and his family members; the consequences of litigating
and   so   many   other   things   which   would   be   difficult   to
adumbrate.   
70. A   child   with   average   intelligence/IQ   will   have   the
intellectual knowledge of the consequences of his actions. But
whether or not he is able to control himself or his actions will
depend on his level of emotional competence. For example,
risky   driving   may   result   in   an   accident.   But   if   emotional
competence is not high, the urge for thrill seeking may get the
better of his intellectual understanding.
74
71. Children   may   be   geared   towards   more   instant
gratification and may not be able to deeply understand the
long­term consequences of their actions. They are also more
likely   to   be   influenced   by   emotion   rather   than   reason.
Research   shows   that   young   people   do   know   risks   to
themselves.   Despite   this   knowledge,   adolescents   engage   in
riskier behaviour than adults (such as drug and alcohol use,
unsafe sexual activity, dangerous driving and/or delinquent
behaviour).   While   they   do   consider   risks   cognitively   (by
weighing up the potential risks and rewards of a particular
act), their decisions / actions may be more heavily influenced
by   social   (e.g.   peer   influences)   and/or   emotional   (e.g.
impulsive)   tendencies.   In   addition,   the   lack   of   experience
coupled with the child’s limited ability to deeply understand
the   long­term   consequences   of   their   actions   can   lead   to
impulsive / reckless decision making.
72. Coming to the last count, i.e., the assessment regarding
the   circumstances   in   which   the   offence   is   alleged   to   be
committed   is   again   an   attribute   which   could   have   many
factors to be considered before such an assessment could be
made.   There could be a number of reasons for a person to
75
commit a crime.   It could be enmity, it could be poverty, it
could   be   greed,   it   could   be   perversity   in   mind   and   many
others. There could be coercion.  There could be threat to one’s
life and property. There could be allurement in terms of the
material and physical gains.   Crime could be committed on
account of stress or depression also. It could be on account of
the company that one keeps.   One could commit crime in
order to help his family and friends.  All these and many more
could be termed as circumstances leading to the commission
of crime.
73. The   preliminary   assessment   has   been   a   question   of
debates, analysis and research. The National Law University,
Orissa, in collaboration with UNICEF, made a detailed study
on   the   practice   of   preliminary   assessment   under   the   Act,
2015.   To   the   said   report   is   annexed   as   Annexure   4,   the
Guidance   Notes   on   Preliminary   Assessment   Reports   for
Children in Conflict in Law developed by the Department of
Child   and   Adolescent   Psychiatry,   NIMHANS9
,   Bengaluru.   It
would   be   worthwhile   to   mention   here   that   NIMHANS,
Bengaluru is one of the premier institutions involved in the
9 National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences.
76
research and study of psychology, and is a world­renowned
centre for mental health, neurosciences and allied fields. The
contents   of   the   Guidance   Notes   referred   to   above   are
reproduced below­ 
“Guidance Notes on 
Preliminary Assessment Report for Children in Conflict
with Law 
Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, NIMHANS,
Bengaluru
The preliminary assessment uses information from the detailed
psychosocial and mental health assessment (that is done first)
and presents that information as outlined below.
A. Mental & Physical Capacity to Commit Alleged Offence
The child’s ability to make social decisions and judgments
are compromised due to:
(i) Life skills deficits (emotional dysregulation/ difficulty
coping with peer pressure/ assertiveness & negotiation
skills   /problem­solving/   conflict­resolution/   decisionmaking). 
(ii) Neglect / poor supervision by family/poor family role
models 
(iii) Experiences of abuse and trauma 
(iv) Substance abuse problems 
(v) Intellectual disability 
(vi) Mental health disorder/ developmental disability
(vii) Treatment/ interventions provided so far
Guidance Notes
77
For   this   section,   the   professional   filling   out   the
preliminary assessment form is simply required to mark
off against each item (a tick mark to indicate ‘yes’ and an
X   mark   to   indicate   ‘no’)   whether   or   not   the   child   is
compromised in this particular area. The information is
drawn from relevant sections of the detailed psychosocial
and mental health proforma, which contain information
on:   how   a   child’s   abilities   to   make   appropriate   social
decisions and judgements (which translate into actions
and behaviours) have been affected by the child’s life
circumstances   and   mental   health   or   developmental
problems. 
For item (i) on life skills deficits, refer to Section 6, ‘Life
Skills Deficits and Other Observations of the Child’ and
sub­section 6.1. on ‘Life Skills Deficits’. 
For item (ii), refer to Section 2, sub­section 2.1. on ‘Family
Issues Identified’. For item (iii) on experiences of abuse
and   trauma,   refer   to   Section   3,   ‘Trauma   Experiences:
Physical, Sexual and Emotional Abuse Experiences’. 
For items (iv) and (vi) on substance abuse problems and
mental health disorders/ developmental disability, refer
to Section 5, ‘Mental Health Concerns’. 
For item (v) on intellectual disability, you may rely on
your judgement based on your interaction with the child
during   the   entire   process   of   administering   the
psychosocial   and   mental   health   proforma—if   the   child
was unable to respond to most questions or responded 2
in   an   age­appropriate   manner   (like   a   younger   child
would, demonstrating little understanding of many things
asked or discussed), then you may suspect that he/she
has   intellectual   disability.   (Following   this,   it   would   be
useful and necessary to confirm this through relevant IQ
testing   conducted   by   psychologists   located   in   mental
health facilities). 
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For   item   (vii),   you   may   have   enquired   from   the   child,
during   the   assessment,   about   whether   he/she   has
received any professional assistance or treatment for any
mental   health   issues/   family   problems   or   life   skills
deficits   that   he/she   has.   (Generally,   children   in   the
Observation Home have never received any treatment or
interventions for their problems). 
In   actual   fact,   everyone,   except   someone   with   serious
physical   disability   (the   type   that   severely   impacts
locomotor skills) or with intellectual disability, has the
mental and physical capacity to commit offence. So, to
ask whether a given child has the mental and physical
capacity to commit offence, in simplistic terms, is likely to
elicit the answer ‘yes’ in most cases. And just because
someone has the physical and mental capacity to commit
an offence, does not mean that they will or that they
have. Therefore, a dichotomous response as elicited by
this question posed by the JJ Act is of little use in making
decisions regarding child who has come into conflict with
the law. Thus, in response to the problems resulting from
a simplistic dichotomous response to the physical­mental
capacity   question,   we   have   adopted   a   more   detailed,
descriptive and nuanced interpretation. 
As   per   the   preliminary   assessment   report   we   have
developed,   mental   and   physical   capacity   to   commit
offence is the ability of a child to make social decisions
and judgments, based on certain limitations that the child
may have. In  other words, a child’s  abilities to make
social decisions and judgments are compromised due to
life   skills   deficits,   neglect   /   poor   supervision   by
family/poor family role models, experiences of abuse and
trauma,   substance   abuse   problems,   intellectual
disability, and/or mental health disorder/ developmental
disability.   Such   issues   (if   untreated)   adversely   impact
children’s world view, and their interactions with their
79
physical and social environment, thereby placing them at
risk of engaging in antisocial activities.
B. Circumstances of Alleged Offence 
(i)   Family   history   and   relationships   (child’s   living
arrangements,   parental   relationships,   child’s   emotional
relationship & attachment to parents, illness & alcoholism in
the family, domestic violence and marital discord if any). 
(ii)   School   and   education   (child’s   school   attendance,   Last
grade   attended,   reasons   for   child   not   attending   schoolwhether it is due to financial issues or lack of motivation,
school refusal, corporal punishment). 
(iii) Work experience/ Child labour (why the child had to
work/ how child found the place of work, where he was
working   /   hours   of   work   and   amount   of   remuneration
received, was there any physical/emotional abuse by the
employer  and   also   regarding   negative  influence   the   child
may have encountered in the workplace regarding substance
abuse etc). 
(iv) Peer relationships (adverse peer influence in the context
of   substance   use/   rule­breaking/inappropriate   sexual
behaviour/school attendance) 
(iv) Experiences   of   trauma   and   abuse   (physical,   sexual   &
emotional Abuse experiences) 3 (vi) Mental health disorders
and developmental disabilities: (Mental health disorders and
developmental disabilities that the child may have). 
Guidance Notes
All   of   the   above   information   for   this   section   is   to   be
documented as it is in the detailed psychosocial and mental
health assessment, drawing on relevant sections from the
detailed   assessment,   so   as   to   present   the   factors   and
80
circumstances that made the child vulnerable to committing
offence.
Information for the first four heads needs to be drawn from
Section 2, Social History, of the psychosocial and mental
health proforma—which contains details on family, school,
institution and peer issues; Information for the fifth item on
trauma,   needs   to   be   drawn   from   Section   3,   Trauma
Experiences:   Physical,   Sexual,   and   Emotional   Abuse
Experiences’ of the psychosocial assessment form; 
For the sixth item on Mental Health Disorders, Section 5,
‘Mental Health Concerns’ (including substance abuse) from
the psychosocial assessment form, would need to be used. 
It   is   important   to   recognize   that   ‘Circumstances   of   the
Offence’   does   NOT   refer   to   proximal   factors   i.e.   what
happened right before the offence incident took place. This is
because proximal factors have a history which is important
to recognize—there is a whole set of factors and life events
that led up to the decisions and actions to just before the
offence   as   well   as   the   offence   itself.   Therefore,
‘circumstances’ are interpreted as life circumstances and a
longitudinal   approach   is   taken   to   understanding
vulnerabilities and pathways to offences. This entails events
and circumstances starting from the child’s birth (or starting
with   the   mother’s   pregnancy   experiences)   to   the   current
date. This is the universal approach to history­taking in child
and   adolescent   mental   health,   to   be   able   to   understand
children’s emotions and behaviours based on their contexts
and experiences, as they have played out over several years
(and so it is not actually specific to children in conflict with
the law). 
C.  Child’s Knowledge  of  Consequences  of  Committing
the Alleged Offence
  (A   brief   about   the   child’s   understanding   of   social/
interpersonal and legal consequences of committing offence
81
along with the child’s insights regarding committing such an
offence).
Guidance Notes 
This is based on the ‘Potential for Transformation’ section in
the detailed psychosocial and mental health assessment, as
well   as   the   first   level   interventions   provided   immediately
after. How the child responded during the assessment i.e.
extent   of   his/her   insight   and   motivation,   must   be
documented here. 
Social and interpersonal consequences refer to the child’s
sense of empathy and understanding of how his/her actions
would (negatively) impact his/her relationship with family,
friends and others; legal consequences refer to the child’s
understanding   of   his/her   actions   as   being   a   boundary
violation/   breaking   of   rules   with   serious   negative
consequences for himself/herself, including punishment and
coming into conflict with the law. 
D. Other Observations & Issues 
Guidance Notes
Any   other   observation   made   during   the   assessment
regarding the child’s social temperament/ child’s behaviour
in the observation home/ level of motivation for change/ if
any positive behaviour noted is also provided. This may be
drawn from Section 6 of the psychosocial and mental health
proforma, on ‘Life Skills Deficits and Other Observations of
the Child’, sub­section 6.2 ‘Other Observations of the Child’.
These   refer   not   just   to   negative   observations   but   also   to
positive ones you might have made during the assessment.
Observations may thus include the child’s demeanour, or
any views or ideologies that the child may have expressed
regarding problem behaviours such as violence or abuse—
which may better help understand who he/she is (and help
82
the   magistrate   view   the   offence   behaviour   from   varied
perspectives). They may also include any odd behaviours
that you observe which might help substantiate the evidence
on mental health disorders and developmental disabilities—
for instance, if the child’s responses appear socially and
cognitively inappropriate to his age, you may note possible
intellectual disability; or if a child appears disoriented in
terms of place and time or has marks of self­harm on his
body, then you might note mental health issues.
E. Recommendations
Guidance Notes
Finally,   the   report   makes   recommendations   for   treatment
and rehabilitation interventions for the child, based on the
interests and desires of the child. These could pertain to
placement,   living   arrangements,   education   and   schooling,
counselling   for   parents,   referral   to   a   tertiary   facility   for
further mental health and psychosocial care and treatment.
This sub­section is critical as it provides the JJB magistrate
with clear direction on what assistance the child requires,
thus creating an imperative for the board to consider options
and   respond   in   ways   that   are   supportive   and   proactive
(versus   making   decisions   of   transfer   to   the   adult   justice
system). 
JJB magistrates may be requested to refer the child to a
psychiatric   facility   for   treatment,   so   that   other   issues
pertaining to family and school can also be taken care of by
the mental health system, which is then obligated to report
to the JJB on the child’s progress. In many instances, JJB
magistrates have issued a conditional bail to ensure that the
child and family follow through with mental health services
as required i.e. bail is given to the child on condition that
he/she presents at the mental health facility and complies
with treatment (if the child refuses to do so, the magistrate
can revoke the bail). Thus, there are adequate provisions
83
under the JJ Act, which if effectively invoked, can be used to
protect CICL from transfer to adult systems, and to facilitate
their rehabilitation instead.
PROVISO TO SECTION 15(1) DIRECTORY OR MANDATORY:
74. The world acknowledges that children in conflict with law
should be treated differently than adults in conflict with law.
The reason is that the mind of the child has not attained
maturity and it is still developing. Therefore, the child should
be   tested   on   different   parameters   and   should   be   given   an
opportunity of being brought into the main stream if, during
his juvenility, has acted in conflict with law.  To understand
psychology of the child, huge rounds of studies have been
made   not   only   recently   but   from   age   old   times   and   child
psychology is a subject which is being studied world over and
there are institutes specifically dealing with the developments
and research on the said subject.   The enactments dealing
with children are enacted world over.  
75. It is to be noted that child psychology is a specialised
branch of development psychology, its genesis is based on the
premise   that   children   and   adults   have   a   different   thought
process. The individualised assessment of adolescent mental
capacity and ability to understand the consequences of the
84
offence   is   one   of   the   most   crucial   determinants   of   the
preliminary assessment mandated by section 15 of the Act,
2015.   The report of the preliminary assessment decides the
germane question of transferring the case of a child between
16 to 18 years of age to the Children’s Court.  This evaluation
of   ‘mental   capacity   and   ability   to   understand   the
consequences’ of the child in conflict with law can, in no way,
be relegated to the status of a perfunctory and a routine task.
The process of taking a decision on which the fate of the child
in conflict with law precariously rests, should not be taken
without conducting a meticulous psychological evaluation.
76. As already noticed, the Board consists of three members,
one is a Judicial Officer First Class and two social workers,
one being a woman.  The social worker appointed as a member
could be having a degree in child psychology or psychiatry but
it is not necessary. As such, the constitution of the Board may
not necessarily be having an expert child psychologist. It is for
all the above reasons that it has been provided not only in
sections 15 and 101(2) but also under the Model Rules that
assistance may be taken from an expert psychologist. Having
regard to the framework of the Act, 2015 and the Model Rules
85
and the purpose of preliminary assessment in terms of Section
15 as also looking to the varied composition of the Board, we
are of the view that where the Board is not comprising of a
practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or
child psychiatry, the expression “may” in the proviso to section
15(1) would operate in mandatory form and the Board would
be obliged to take assistance of experienced psychologists or
psycho­social workers or other experts. However, in case the
Board comprises of at least one such member, who has been a
practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or
child psychiatry, the Board may take such assistance as may
be considered proper by it; and in case the Board chooses not
to take such assistance, it would be required of the Board to
state specific reasons therefor.
77. It is a well settled principle of interpretation that the word
‘may’ when used in a legislation by itself does not connote a
directory meaning. If in a particular case, in the interests of
equity and justice it appears to the court that the intent of the
legislature is to convey a statutory duty, then the use of the
word   “may”   will   not   prevent   the   Court   from   giving   it   a
86
mandatory colour. This Court in Bachahan   Devi   v.   Nagar
Nigam, Gorakhpur10
, held as under:
“18. It is well settled that the use of the word “may” in
a statutory provision would not by itself show that the
provision   is   directory   in   nature.   In   some   cases,   the
legislature may use the word “may” as a matter of pure
conventional courtesy and yet intend a mandatory force.
In order, therefore, to interpret the legal import of the
word “may”, the court has to consider various factors,
namely,   the   object   and   the   scheme   of   the   Act,   the
context and the background against which the words
have   been   used,   the   purpose   and   the   advantages
sought to be achieved by the use of this word, and the
like. It is equally well settled that where the word “may”
involves   a   discretion   coupled   with   an   obligation   or
where it confers a positive benefit to a general class of
subjects in a utility Act, or where the court advances a
remedy and suppresses the mischief, or where giving
the words directory significance would defeat the very
object of the Act, the word “may” should be interpreted
to  convey   a mandatory  force.   As  a  general  rule,  the
word   “may”   is   permissive   and   operative   to   confer
discretion   and   especially   so,   where   it   is   used   in
juxtaposition   to   the   word   “shall”,   which   ordinarily   is
imperative as it imposes a duty. Cases, however, are
not wanting where the words “may”, “shall” and “must”
are used interchangeably. In order to find out whether
these   words   are   being   used   in   a   directory   or   in   a
mandatory sense, the intent of the legislature should be
looked into along with the pertinent circumstances.”
78. Similarly, this Court in Dhampur  Sugar  Mills  Ltd.   v.
State of U.P.11
, held:
10 (2008) 12 SCC 372
11 (2007) 8 SCC 338
87
“36. ….In our judgment, mere use of word “may” or
“shall”   is   not   conclusive.   The   question   whether   a
particular   provision   of   a   statute   is   directory   or
mandatory   cannot   be   resolved   by   laying   down   any
general rule of universal application. Such controversy
has to be decided by ascertaining the intention of the
legislature and not by looking at the language in which
the   provision   is   clothed.   And   for   finding   out   the
legislative intent, the court must examine the scheme of
the Act, purpose and object underlying the provision,
consequences likely to ensue or inconvenience likely to
result if the provision is read one way or the other and
many more considerations relevant to the issue.”
79. Therefore, looking to the purpose of the Act, 2015 and its
legislative intent, particularly to ensure the protection of best
interest of the child, the expression “may” in the proviso to
Section 15(1) thereof and the requirement of taking assistance
of experienced psychologists or psycho­social workers or other
experts would operate as mandatory unless the Board itself
comprises   of   at   least   one   member   who   is   a   practicing
professional   with   a   degree   in   child   psychology   or   child
psychiatry. Moreover, in case the Board, in view of its own
composition with at least one member, who is a practicing
professional   with   a   degree   in   child   psychology   or   child
psychiatry,   chooses   not   to   take   such   assistance,   it   would
record specific reasons therefor.
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80. Before we close, it would be pertinent to mention that the
case laws relied upon by the learned counsel for the parties do
not require deliberation in view of the findings recorded by us
on various issues.
CONCLUSION
81. We are conscious of the fact that the power to make the
preliminary assessment is vested in the Board and also the
Children’s Court under sections 15 and 19 respectively. The
Children’s Court, on its own, upon a matter being referred to
under section 18(3), would still examine whether the child is to
be   tried   as   an   adult   or   not,   and   if   it   would   come   to   the
conclusion that the child was not to be tried as an adult then
it   would   itself   conduct   an   inquiry   as   a   Board   and   pass
appropriate orders under section 18.  Thus, the power to carry
out the preliminary assessment rests with the Board and the
Children’s Court. This Court cannot delve upon the exercise of
preliminary assessment. This Court will only examine as to
whether the preliminary assessment has been carried out as
required under law or not. Even the High Court, exercising
revisionary power under section 102, would test the decision
of the Board or the Children’s Court with respect to its legality
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or propriety only. In the present case, the High Court has,
after   considering   limited   material   on   record,   arrived   at   a
conclusion that the matter required reconsideration and for
which, it has remanded the matter to the Board with further
directions   to   take   additional   evidence   and   also   to   afford
adequate   opportunity   to   the   child   before   taking   a   fresh
decision.
82. In arriving at the conclusion, the High Court firstly held
that   there   was   denial   of   adequate   opportunity   to   the
respondent.  The list of documents, copies of the documents,
copies of the statement, the SIR not being provided to the
respondent, was in clear violation of rule 10(5) of the Model
Rules.
83. Despite specific request for cross­examining the experts
who had given the report, the same was not provided to the
respondent.  The tests conducted by the expert psychologists
were not applicable or could not have been applied to a child
above the age of 15 years.  It could have been applied only for
children below the age of up to 15 years in one test and up to
11.5 years in the other test. The psychologist had suggested
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for further assessment by a superior facility, which was not
accepted by the Board without cogent reason.  
84. The mental age as per the applicable formula based on
the IQ of the child would be less than 16 years.  The Board,
provided only 30 minutes time to the child, his lawyer, his
father and also to the counsel for CBI to peruse the 35 pages
of the report, which was too little to peruse and comprehend
and   give   any   evidence   in   rebuttal.     The   CBI   counsel   had
admitted   that   it   did   not   have   officers   or   the   required
infrastructure   to   conduct   the   investigation   under   the   Act,
2015.  For all the above reasons, the High Court remitted the
matter to the Board after setting aside both the orders of the
Board and the Children’s Court to consider afresh and assess
the intelligence, maturity, physical fitness and as to how the
child   in   conflict   with   law   was   in   a   position   to   know   the
consequences   of   the   offence.     The   exercise   was   to   be
undertaken within a period of six weeks.   The High Court
further   directed   that   while   conducting   the   preliminary
assessment   afresh,   opinion   of   the   psychologist   of   the
Government Hospital (Institute of Mental Health, University of
Health Sciences, Rohtak) be obtained.   This Court may not
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agree with the reasoning given by the High Court on all counts
and   also   the   direction   given   for   conducting   further   tests.
However, we have no hesitation in agreeing with the ultimate
result of the High Court in remanding the matter for a fresh
consideration after rectifying the errors on lack of adequate
opportunity.
85. The High court taking into consideration all these aspects
set aside the order of the Board, and remanded the matter and
also directed for getting further examination of the child, and
this exercise was to be undertaken within 6 weeks. Today,
after 3½ years, we are not in a position to give an opinion as to
whether any further test can be carried out at this stage as the
age of the child is now more than 21 years. However, we leave
it to the discretion of the Board or the psychologist who may
be consulted as to whether any fresh examination would be of
any relevance/assistance or not. We have already referred to
in detail the kind of analysis or assessment required to be
made under section 15. The Act, 2015 or the Model Rules do
not lay down any guidelines or framework to facilitate the
Board   in   making   a   proper   preliminary   assessment   on   the
relevant aspects. The only liberty given to the Board is to
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obtain assistance of an experienced psychologist or a psychosocial worker or other expert. In the present case, the only
assistance taken is to get the mental IQ of the child. Beyond
that, regarding the ability to understand the consequences
and also the circumstances in which the alleged offence was
committed, no report was called for from any psychologist. 
86. In view of the above, both the appeals are dismissed.
87. Before   concluding,   we   may   indicate   that   the   task   of
preliminary assessment under section 15 of the Act, 2015 is a
delicate task with requirement of expertise and has its own
implications as regards trial of the case. In this view of the
matter,   it   appears   expedient   that   appropriate   and   specific
guidelines   in   this   regard   are   put   in   place.   Without   much
elaboration, we leave it open for the Central Government and
the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the
State Commission for Protection of Child Rights to consider
issuing   guidelines   or   directions   in   this   regard   which   may
assist   and   facilitate   the   Board   in   making   the   preliminary
assessment under section 15 of the Act, 2015. 
88. We also make it clear that any observations made in our
order which may be touching the merits of the case was only
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for the purpose of deciding these appeals and the same would
in no way influence the Board or the Children’s Court or the
High   Court.   They   may   proceed   to   decide   the   matters
objectively on merits in accordance with law.
………..........................J.
[DINESH MAHESHWARI]
………….........................J.
[VIKRAM NATH]
NEW DELHI
JULY  13, 2022. 
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