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Porsche teen's remand illegal, says Bombay HC, orders his release

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MUMBAI: The continuation of the minor accused in the Pune Porsche case in an observation home is absolutely illegal, Bombay HC held on Tuesday, directing his release. HC directed the home to release the minor on bail with his custody not to be with any grandparent.

The Juvenile Justice Board had, while granting bail to the minor on May 19, ordered that he be handed over to the grandparents' custody after his grandfather gave an undertaking. HC said he could be handed over to the care of his aunt, who filed a habeas corpus plea in HC for his release alleging illegal detention. The aunt lives in New Delhi.

"We are bound by law, the aims and objectives of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, and must treat him as any child in conflict with law (CCL), despite the seriousness or heinousness of the crime," said a two-judge bench of Justices Bharati Dangre and Manjusha Deshpande.

The teen was allegedly speeding in his luxury car in an intoxicated state on May 19 when it crashed into a bike, killing two software engineers, Aneesh Awadhiya and Ashwini Koshta.

HC said the immediate reaction to the accident, the outcry of the public, and the "clarion call given" led to the prosecution seeking to try him as an adult. "His age needs to be considered... CCLs are to be considered differently, and not as adults. We allow the habeas corpus and order his release," the court said. Reading out the operative part of the judgment, the bench said, "A demand is made by the prosecution to accuse him of a heinous offence and try him as an adult which may receive due consideration."

HC asked public prosecutor H S Venegaonkar under which legal provision teen was sent back to observation home after his release on bail. HC reasoned that in the absence of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 providing for the juvenile's remand, "the procedure adopted by the Board in extending" his remand under CrPC was "not applicable in case of a child who is already released on bail".

Speaking of "the rehabilitation and reintegration of the child in conflict with law," HC said that is "the primary object of the Act" and "he is already referred to a psychologist and is undergoing therapy with a de-addiction centre, and he shall continue participating in such sessions."

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