The high court was hearing a criminal reference for issuing guidelines for the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) for preliminary assessments of a minor for a trial as an adult.
Delhi High Court has said that seeking a confession about an alleged crime committed by a juvenile is unconstitutional as a presumption is raised at the pre-trial stage itself that the child has committed the offense.
The court also added that securing the confession of the juvenile in conflict with the law is beyond the scope of a report of the preliminary assessment to be prepared under the Juvenile Justice Act.
A bench of justices Mukta Gupta and Anish Dayal perused a preliminary assessment report prepared by a psychologist on the subject and said that under clause 3 of the report it could be clearly noted that a confession is required to be extracted from a child to know how the offense was committed and the reasons behind it.
In its 19 September order, the bench said that this manner of seeking a confession from the child is unconstitutional and beyond the scope of a report of the preliminary assessment that is to be prepared under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
Section 15 of the JJ Act provides that the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) may conduct a preliminary assessment to assess the maturity level of the child, his mental and physical capacity to conduct such an act, in case the child has committed a heinous offense, and is of age between 16 and 18 years.
It was noted by the bench that the probation officer is required to fill out a form that relates to preparing the Social Investigation Report (SIR) for the child in conflict with the law under the JJ Act.
The bench said that the two questions regarding the role of the alleged child and the reason for committing the offense were incorrect because a presumption was raised that the child has committed the offense at the pre-trial stage itself.
Also, the bench added that most often, the SIR filled by the probation officer is also considered appropriate at the time of preparing the preliminary assessment report under Section 15 of the JJ Act.