High School Certificate Primary Proof in Determining Age Factor: Allahabad HC
Allahabad High Court in Ankit And Anr Vs State Of U.P. And 3 Ors — Writ – C No. – 10853 of 2021, held that High School Certificate is the primary source for determination of the age of a minor and supersedes other documentary evidence such as Aadhar Card and Medico-Legal Evidences. The petition was filed by petitioners claiming themselves to be major and married on 28.02.2021, and asking for direction to respondents for non-interference and enforcement of protection as envisaged under Article 21 and Article 22.
The single-judge bench of Hon’ble Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal held:
“Apart from relying upon Aadhar Card, medical report and decision of Apex Court in case of Suhani & another (supra), nothing was placed before the Court by the petitioners to substantiate their claim as far as the age of petitioner No.2 is concerned. Thus, once the High School certificate has been brought on record, which having not been denied or challenged by petitioner No.2, no question arises for considering the medico-legal evidence or Aadhar Card for determining the age of the girl.”
Petitioner no. 1 aged about 21 years and petitioner no 2. disclosed her age as 19 years, in support of which copy of Aadhar Card and PAN Card had been submitted. They had married on 28.02.2021 and applied for registration of marriage on 22.03.2021. It was stated that family members were creating trouble for the petitioners and tried to take forcible custody of petitioner no 2. Therefore, the petitioners approached the court seeking a writ of mandamus for protection and non-interference.
The respondents argued that the girl was a minor and submitted her High School Certificate issued on 27.10.2020 by the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, U.P. The Certificate marks her date of birth as 03.11.2004, and therefore it is argued that she is 17 years old and a minor as per Section 5(iii) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and petitioner no. 1 has enticed her away.
The court passed an interim order on 25.06.2021 directing the medical examination of the petitioner for conclusive proof of age, and the report placed before this court on 20.07.2021 stated the age of the girl to be about 19 years. The court placed reliance on the Apex Court judgment of Jarnail Singh vs. State of Haryana — (2013) 7 SCC 263, where it examined the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 framed under Section 68(1) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and held:
“Even though Rule 12 is strictly applicable only to determine the age of a child in conflict with law, we are of the view that the aforesaid statutory provision should be the basis for determining age, even of a child who is a victim of crime. For, in our view, there is hardly any difference insofar as the issue of minority is concerned, between a child in conflict with law, and a child who is a victim of crime. Therefore, in our considered opinion, it would be just and appropriate to apply Rule 12 of the 2007 Rules, to determine the age of the prosecutrix”
Section 94 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 states presumption and determination of age under the Act. Section 94(2) prescribes the process of age determination where it is determined by the date of birth certificate from school or the matriculation certificate of the concerned education board or the birth certificate by a corporation/municipal authority/panchayat. Only in absence of such a certificate a medico-legal test such as ossification can be conducted. The court further held:
“Apart from this, the oral statement made by the mother of the girl before this Court that the age recorded in the High School certificate was correct cannot be disbelieved solely on the basis of the date of birth recorded in the AADHAR Card of petitioner No.2 as well as the medical report. A Division Bench of this Court in Misc. Bench No.13419 of 2018, Smt. Parvati Kumari and others vs. State of U.P. and others, decided on 09.01.2019 has held that entry of date of birth in Aadhaar Card is not conclusive.”
Concluding, as the petitioners had not placed on record any proof apart from Aadhar Card and Medical Report, and respondents brought on record the High School Certificate, the court held that there was no need to examine medico-legal evidence and dismissed the petitions for protection sought by the petitioners.
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL