Karnataka: Determining the age of a person who doesn’t have previous records is quite a technical issue. More often than not, the courts looks up to Medical Fraternity to conduct the age determination, particularly in the background of criminal cases. One type of common case is that where doctors have to ascertain the age of a person to classify him/her as a juvenile.
In a recent case in front of Karnataka High Court, a similar issue was brought which mandated the determination of age of a juvenile convicted in a rape charge, saw major glitches on the part of police and district authorities with relation to the procedure. Following this the hon’ble court has issued number of directions on the proper procedure to be followed to determine the age of juvenile offenders.
The major takeaway from the direction specify that individual doctors cannot issue certificate of age as the age determination will have to be done by a legally-constituted medical board consisting of two or more doctors having specialisation in the related fields.
The main considerations of the same are as follows:-
- A juvenile involved in a criminal case are to be subjected to medical test to determine the age only in the absence of birth, matriculation or school certificates, or when such certificates were found to be fabricated or tampered with or not reliable, declared the High Court of Karnataka.
- Individual doctors cannot issue certificate of age as the age determination will have to be done by a legally-constituted medical board consisting of two or more doctors having specialisation in the related fields.
- The board, Hindu reported should comprise a dental examiner, a physiologist, a radiologist, as well as forensic expert. Each of these will have to give an individual report based on the examination of the juvenile. The chairperson of the board will have to send, within 15 days from reference the final report indicating the age of the juvenile on the date of the offence.
- The hon’ble court directed that government, through district surgeons, should inform all doctors in the State that they should not individually conduct any age determination examination of a juvenile unless they are declared as medical board. In case, anyone refers a juvenile for age determination to individual doctors, they should inform the district surgeon.
- The court also directed the State Police Chief to issue circulars to all the police to collect age certificates, and refer the juvenile for medical exam only in case of difficulty in relying on such certificates.
- The court directed the State to constitute a medical board in each district hospital, as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 prescribes for constitution of such a board. Dircetions have also been issued to State Judicial Academy and the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority to hold legal awareness programme on the procedure for determination of age to all stakeholders.