NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK
Court on Its Own Motion v State, GNCTD – Writ Petition (C) No. 8801/2008 delivered on 03.03.2009
In this case two child welfare worker wrote a letter to the Delhi High Court stating that Delhi police was forcing the juveniles to sign statements made to the police officers and was relying upon their statements before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) and this practice was contrary to section 162(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 stating that no statement made by any person to a police officer in the course of investigation should be signed by the person making the statement, if reduced to writing. The letter also gave details of some cases in which such signed statements were relied upon by the JJB.
The High Court dealt with the Sections 24, 25 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. It stated that Section 24 debars admissibility of an evidence if it had been made due to inducement, threat, promise made by a person in authority. Further, Section 25 of the Act bans admissibility of confession by a person made while being in custody of a police officer. It observed that, “A person need not be an accused of an offence when he makes a confession to a police officer for prohibition under Section 25 to apply.” It does not matter that when the confession was made, whether the person was in custody or not. Similarly the Court discussed the provisions of Sections 26, 27; Section 26 allows confession’s admissibility while in custody only when it is made in the presence of a Magistrate. Section 27 allows admissibility only to the extent that any fact has discovered in consequence of statement/information made/provided. Further, that the Section 162 (2) CrPC does not affect the admissibility of statement/information under Section 27.
The Court further observed that underlining policy, of S. 162(1) barring signature of a person taken on statement made while interrogation by the police officer, is that “the witnesses should be free to testify before the court unhampered by anything which the police claims to have elicited from them.” The SC observed in State of Rajasthan v Teja Ram and Others AIR 1999 SC 1776 that the Investigating Officer is not obliged to obtain the signature of an accused in any statement attributed to him… But, if any signature has been obtained ….there is nothing wrong or illegal about it.”
The reference was made to circular no. 20/2008 issued by the Delhi Police and Section 10 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000. The Court observed that the provision of the Section stipulates that a juvenile child, in conflict with law once apprehended should be immediately produced before the JJB. Further, he should be placed with special juvenile police unit or the designated police officer and then produced before the JJB within 24 hours of apprehension. He should not be placed in police lockup or a jail and this aspect should be taken care of by the police officers and the JJB as well. Further, mention to Rule 11 Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Rules, 2007 was made.
It mentioned that the police officer apprehending the child should inform the designated juvenile or child welfare officer and also the parents or guardians of the juvenile and inform them about the address of the JJB where the juvenile would be produced and they should be present there.
The JJB and police officer should follow these aspects and provisions of the Act and the Rules, and whenever violation of these provisions come to the notice of the JJB appropriate action should be taken by the JJB under Section 23 of the JJ Act. Procedure as per Rule 13(2)(a) should be followed in cases of allegation of ill treatment by the police or any person on the juvenile.