Ossification test at 55 can’t determine juvenility during crime: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said the ossification test conducted on an accused at the age of 55 cannot be termed conclusive to declare him a juvenile on the date of the incident in the absence of reliable medical evidence.

A bench comprising Justices R.F. Nariman, Hemant Gupta and B.R. Gavai said when ossification tests cannot yield trustworthy and reliable results, such test cannot be made a basis to determine the age of the person concerned on the date of incident.

“Therefore, in the absence of any reliable, trustworthy medical evidence to find out age of the appellant (accused), the ossification test conducted in year 2020 when the appellant was 55 years of age cannot be conclusive to declare him as a juvenile on the date of the incident,” it said in its verdict.

The verdict came on an appeal of murder convict challenging the April 2020 Allahabad High Court verdict, which upheld his conviction. Ram Vijay Singh filed an application before the court stating he was juvenile on the date of incident on July 20, 1982.

In support of his plea, Singh relied upon family register maintained by the panchayat, his Aadhaar card and an order passed by the High Court in 1982, granted him bail on the basis of the report of the radiologist that the age of the appellant at that time was between 15-17 years.

The top court noted that there was a mention of single barrel gun granted to Singh on July 24, 1982, a couple of days after the incident. In Column 2 of the application, Singh provided his date of birth as December 30, 1961.

It said that when a person is around 18 years of age, the ossification test can be said to be relevant for determining the approximate age of a person in conflict with law. However, when the person is around 40-55 years of age, the structure of bones cannot be helpful in determining the age.

On the aspect of age of the accused, the bench considered his date of birth for procuring arms licence, granted after the day of the incident. Dismissing the appeal, the bench said: “It is not necessary for the prosecution to examine all the witnesses who might have witnessed the occurrence. It is the quality of evidence which is relevant in criminal trial and not the quantity.”