Ossification test cannot be considered as “conclusive” to ascertain the age of a person, the Supreme Court has said while dismissing the juvenility plea of two accused in a criminal case.
The apex court said a “blind and mechanical view” on the age of a person cannot be adopted solely on the basis of medical opinion by radiological examination.
“Courts have taken judicial notice of this fact and have always held that the evidence afforded by radiological examination is no doubt a useful guiding factor for determining the age of a person but the evidence is not of a conclusive and incontrovertible nature and it is subject to a margin of error.
“Medical evidence as to the age of a person though a very useful guiding factor is not conclusive and has to be considered along with other circumstances,” a bench of justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi said.
The findings came in a case in which the crime was committed in 1994 and the trial court had convicted the two persons in 1995 for the offence of murder which was upheld by the Allahabad High Court.
The apex court also cited previous judgements and observed that the purpose of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 is not to give shelter to the accused of “grave and heinous offences”.
“… We hold that ossification test cannot be regarded as conclusive when it comes to ascertaining the age of a person,” the bench said, adding that the two convicts have now crossed the age of 30 years which is an important factor to be taken into account as age cannot be determined with precision.
“In the present case, their physical, dental and radiological examinations were carried out. Radiological examination of skull (AP and lateral view), sternum (AP and lateral view) and sacrum (lateral view) was advised and performed.
“As per the medical report, there was no indication for dental x-rays since both the accused were much beyond 25 years of age. Therefore, the age determination based on ossification test though may be useful is not conclusive. An X-ray ossification test can by no means be so infallible and accurate a test as to indicate the correct number of years and days of a person’s life,” the bench said