Age test ordered for boy languishing in jail

December 20th, 2008 - 4:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Dec 20 (IANS) The Orissa High Court has ordered an ossification test on a boy to determine whether he was a minor when he was arrested 18 months ago on the charge of killing two forest department officials near his village, a lawyer said Saturday.The ossification test is a bone test that helps to ascertain the age of a person.

Justice L.K. Mishra ordered the test Thursday in response to a plea filed by Ratha Tiria, who hails from Kankadahada block of the state’s Dhenkanal district, 200 km from here.

Tiria said that he was 13 years old when the police arrested him, his lawyer Bibhu Prasad Tripathy told IANS.

The boy was arrested on the charge of murdering two forest department officials on the night of Jan 31, 2007 near his village in Kandhamal district.

The police have also claimed that he is linked to Maoists.

But Tripathy said his client is innocent and the police arrested him when the boy was collecting firewood.

They have not been able to substantiate the allegation against the boy by bringing material evidence against him, added his lawyer.

The boy was taken to court March 1, 2007 from where the judge sent him to judicial custody.

Tripathy claimed Ratha was never provided any opportunity to exercise his right of proper representation as neither his parents nor his well wishers was ever permitted to meet him.

“The parents of this tribal boy were not able to engage a lawyer and I offered to help and took up the case,” he said.

“We filed a bail petition in the court of the sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM) at Kamakhyanagar on May 2, 2007 along with an application for conducting an ossification test to determine the juvenility as the police have shown the age of the boy as 19 years in the forwarding report. The court rejected our applications.

“We later filed a criminal revision plea before the high court. The high court judge took serious note of the grounds on the basis of which the petitions were rejected,” he said.

The court quashed the order of the SDJM court and ordered an ossification test of the boy, Tripathy said.

“In the present case though a claim of juvenility was raised before the SDJM, he did not follow the procedure prescribed,” the court said.

“The impugned order shows that the court was not even aware of the existence of the act and rules,” Tripathy said, citing the judgement.

The court directed the same SDJM court to determine whether Ratha is a juvenile. The court also said the inquiry be completed without unnecessary delay, preferably within a month, he added.

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