The High Court has ruled that children cannot be sentenced to jail for more than 10 years regardless of the crimes they are convicted of.
A child’s statement cannot be construed as evidence, the court said in a verdict, of which the full 64-page copy was published recently.
A panel of Justice Md Shawkat Hossain, Justice Md Ruhul Quddus and Justice ASM Abdul Mobin delivered a summary judgment on Aug 28, 2019, reports bdnews24.com.
Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal-4 sentenced some people to death in a murder case under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act in 2011.
A juvenile court sentenced a child to 10 years in prison in the same case. The verdict was challenged at the High Court later.
At the hearing of the appeal filed on behalf of the child and death references of the other convicts, a panel of two judges found that the child’s confessional statement was recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or CrPC, which can be used as evidence in trial.
The judges forwarded the case to the chief justice as questions have been raised over the logic of recording the child’s statement, the Juvenile Court’s jurisdiction and some other issues.
The chief justice on Oct 2, 2018 formed the larger bench of three judges who overturned the child’s sentence.
SM Shahjahan and Md Abu Hanif represented the child. The High Court heard opinions of lawyers Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, MI Farooqi and Shahdeen Malik as amici curiae appointed by the court to assist it in this case which required specific expertise.
The verdict said recording statement of a child is contradictory to the juvenile justice system.
Children are not fully aware of the consequences of their action, according to neuroscience and psychological studies. So, a child cannot fully understand the consequences of their confessional statement, the court observed.
As such, a child’s confessional statement cannot be used as the basis of their conviction, according to the ruling.
In many sensitive cases, parents of children, who get engaged in fights, are arrested. The children in these cases sometimes try to take the blame in order to save their parents, the court said.
In some cases, children agree to make confessional statements after being promised some benefits, it added.