Guwahati, May 4: The ossification (bone) test report of Benjamin G. Momin — an undertrial prisoner at Guwahati Central Jail — has confirmed that he was a juvenile in 1999, when he was allegedly involved in a robbery and murder case.
The report paves the way for Momin’s release, but not before languishing for more than a decade in jail — in gross violation of the Juvenile Justice Act.
An ossification test determines the approximate age of a person based on the fusion of bones in the joints of the body.
“Doctors of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), who conducted the ossification test, stated in the report that as on April 11, 2012, Momin’s age was between 25 and 30 years,” said R.S. Choudhury, who has been appointed the amicus curiae by the high court in the case.
“If we assume his age to be 30 years, then he was 17 years old in November 1999 when the crime was committed,” she said.
The Juvenile Justice Act clearly mentions that a juvenile who is alleged to have committed an offence and not completed 18 years of age as on the date of commission of such an offence must be sent to an observation home and not to jail and he should be separately tried by the Juvenile Justice Board.
Choudhury said on the basis of the ossification test report and certificates submitted by Momin, the Kamrup district and sessions court has concluded that he was a minor at the time of commission of the offence and transferred the case to the Juvenile Justice Board on May 2 for passing necessary orders.
Momin had submitted two certificates in court, one issued by the Assembly of God High School in Dimapur — where he studied and his birth certificate — issued by the Nagaland government, which mentions his date of birth as May 2, 1984.
Momin, who hails from Mendipathar in East Garo Hills of Meghalaya was arrested in January 2000 from Dimapur, in connection with a robbery and murder case registered at Boko police station in the Kamrup district of Assam, on November 7, 1999.
Following his arrest, despite being a minor, he was sent to jail instead of an observation home. As a result, he had to spend 12 years in prison in gross violation of the Juvenile Justice Act.
His plight came to light when he wrote a letter to Gauhati High Court Chief Justice A.K. Goel on December 3 last year, pleading for speedy trial and claiming that gross injustice had been meted out to him.
Taking cognisance of his letter, the high court registered a suo motu case and asked the district court to expeditiously decide Momin’s plea.
The Juvenile Justice Board is likely to order his release from jail since under the Juvenile Justice Act the maximum penalty a juvenile has to pay is to remain in the observation home for three years or till he attains the age of 21 and Momin has already spent 12 years in jail.