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‘Most brutal’ juvenile convict gets 3 years

‘Most brutal’ juvenile convict gets 3 years
Highlights

Eight months after the brutal rape and assault on 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in the Capital on December 16, 21012, and who died...

Delhi Gangrape: Massive protest against light punishment

  • Juvenile Board awards him maximum punishment of 3 years in remand home
  • He was a little over 17 yrs at the time of the heinous act
  • Verdict comes eight-and-a-half months after gang-rape
  • Eight months knocked off for stay in juvenile centre
  • Acquitted of charges of attempt to murder her friend
  • Demand to put him in Tihar jail

  • Parents of the Delhi’s braveheart devastated by the verdict
  • Subramanian Swamy to challenge verdict in SC

Venkat Parsa

New Delhi: Eight months after the brutal rape and assault on 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in the Capital on December 16, 21012, and who died while undergoing treatment in Singapore on December 29, 2012, the juvenile, a key accused in the heinous of the heinous crime, was found guilty, but let off with three years punishment, because he was a little over 17, but below 18-years of age, when he committed the crime. Although the charges were as grave and heinous as rape and murder, maximum punishment under the Juvenile Justice Act, was awarded, which is three years.

The prosecution had called the minor, as the "most brutal of the six". He was the one who had called the victim and her male friend to the bus on Dec 16 night by giving them wrong information. He along with five other men had gangraped the girl in the moving bus and had then thrown both of them out - without clothes - on the streets in the cold December 16 night.

The police had said that apart from sexually assaulting the 23-year-old physiotherapist trainee, the minor had also ripped out her internal organs with a rod. The girl died later. The brutal gang rape sparked massive protests in New Delhi and other cities, with people demanding death for the accused persons. The board refused to reveal all the charges for which the minor accused had been convicted and acquitted.

The Juvenile Justice Board, presided over by Principal Magistrate Geetanjali Goel, sentenced the lone minor accused to a three-year stay in a special home. The boy, who was 17-and-half -years old at the time of the incident, has turned 18. The judge knocked off eight months for the time he has already spent in a juvenile centre since his arrest. The juvenile was also acquitted of attempting to murder the girl's male friend, who was with her and had been attacked by the gang, before the couple was thrown naked onto the road on the chill winter night. Inquiry against the juvenile, who had said he is innocent, was completed on August 5. However, the ruling was deferred repeatedly because of Supreme Court case filed by leader Subramanian Swamy, which seeks to change the legal definition of a juvenile.

Subramanian Swamy has declared that he would move the Supreme Court against the verdict, saying, “The verdict was delivered, based on an incomplete law.” Swamy said the age of the juvenile should be lowered. Magsaysay Award winner and country’s first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi insisted that the juvenile should be lodged in Tihar Jail in the Capital and not sent to remand home. Kiran Bedi said grave crimes like rape and murder were committed. Referring to generational change, adolescents now are committing crimes consciously and taking advantage of their age, which is why, she argued, law must be changed. Society is changing and maturity levels are changing and so the law must also change, she said.

Neeraj Kumar, who was Delhi Police Commissioner when the crime was committed and faced enormous flak over the crime, expressed satisfaction that it has vindicated their line of investigation. As for the quantum of punishment, he said it is under the law of the land and cannot be faulted.

Contrarian view, however, came from National Commission for Protection of Child’s Rights (NCPCR) member Nina Nayak, who said India is a signatory to the international covenant for child’s rights and the country cannot meddle with Juvenile Justice Act. Nina Nayak pointed to the social background of the juvenile, which made him vulnerable.

Parents of the Delhi’s braveheart, devastated by the verdict, demanded severest punishment for all six accused, including the juvenile. Of the five adults arrested, one committed suicide in jail in March. The others are being tried by a special fast-track court and could face death sentence if convicted. The verdict on them is expected in mid-September.

Mother of the deceased girl said, “This kind of justice is meaningless, unacceptable. If an accused gets only three years for rape and murder, he might as well be allowed to go free. This verdict will encourage crimes like this.” The mother cried bitterly and uncontrollably. Earlier, she had said an accused should be punished according to his crime, not his age.

Father of the girl said, “It is a crime to be born a girl in this country.” They said they would challenge it in a higher court. The parents of the girl said the juvenile should be hanged, considering the heinous crime he has committed. “I was hoping that the juvenile accused will be given life imprisonment, but he was given only three years (in special home). I am not happy with the judgment of the Juvenile Justice Board. I will approach the high court seeking life imprisonment for the juvenile accused,” he said.

The girl was violated with an iron rod, which incensed the country that held its breath while she fought for two weeks for her life, first in Delhi and then in Singapore where she was airlifted by the Government. Street protests were sparked off, demanding tougher anti-rape laws. This gory incident impelled an overhaul of archaic anti-rape laws to punish sexual crimes against women. The Government set up Justice J S Verma Committee that came with detailed recommendations, based on which the laws were amended through an Ordinance, which was later replaced through regular Bill in Parliament.

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