Could a juvenile accused claim his juvenility at any stage of proceeding? A fact that accused was juvenile at the time of the commission of the offence is the most important fact. This fact can be raised at any stage of a criminal proceeding. Trial, appeal and revision are the stages of a criminal proceeding and accused can take the plea of juvenility at any stage.
It does not matter that it was not raised in trial and the first time is taken in appeal or revision proceeding. If a sentence is passed against the accused in absence of the fact that the accused was juvenile, accused can take the plea of juvenility in an appeal against the sentence.
If the sentence is passed and accused has been in jail for many years, he can file appeal, revision or file Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court and take his plea of juvenility. Maximum imprisonment is prescribed for a juvenile offender is of three years.
In Upendra Pradhan v. State of Orissa (2015) SCC, it is held by the Supreme Court that:
“The plea can be raised before any Court and at any point of time…… we will look into the present petition keeping in mind the juvenility of the accused-appellant at the time of the commission of the crime….. it has been brought to our notice that the appellant has undergone about 8 years in jail.
The appellant falls within the definition of “juvenile” under Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Act, 2000. Upendra Pradhan has undergone almost 8 years of the sentence, which is more than the maximum period of three years prescribed under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000. Thus, giving him the benefit under the Act, and the appellant be released forthwith.”
This similar view is taken by the Supreme Court in Ram Narain vs State of Uttar Pradesh (2015) SLP 1446/2004 in this case accused was undergoing sentence for 10 years and he raised the plea of juvenility first time before Supreme Court through SLP.