December,18,2015:The Juvenile convicted in the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder of Nirbhaya will walk free on Sunday, after the Delhi high court on Friday refused to pass any directive on extending his three-year stay in a reform home.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had urged the court to not release the juvenile, claiming he had been “radicalised” while in the reform home. Based on his plea, the court has issued notices to the central and Delhi governments on the matter. The next date of hearing is March 28.
The parents of Nirbhaya, as the paramedical student brutally assaulted on December 16, 2012 is known as, werep resent in the court. They said they were shocked by the court’s decision to let the juvenile walk free. “Even after all our efforts, the juvenile convict will now be released,” a teary-eyed Nirbhaya’s mother said outside the court.
The juvenile, who was under 18 when he was arrested for the brutal rape and murder of a student of paramedics on December 16, 2012, was tried under the Juvenile Justice Act. He was ordered to be kept in a remand home for three years.
Calling the juvenile who’s almost 20 now, an ‘animal’, Swamy last week said it would be dangerous to release him into society. He also appealed to the court to make provisions in the law to deal with situations where juveniles are convicted of such serious offences.
The Centre as well sought an extension of his stay in the reform home until all issues — including the juvenile’s mental health and a post-release rehabilitation plan or him — had been considered by the authorities.
The court had earlier also sought an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report, in a sealed envelope, about the convict having been radicalized. The IB had raised suspicions that the juvenile became radicalised after being moved in with another juvenile apprehended in connection with the Delhi high court blast case.
A trial court had awarded the death penalty to four rapists, a sentence that was upheld by the high court. Of the six convicts, one was found dead in Tihar Jail and the juvenile was sent to a reform home. The appeals for four convicts are pending before the Supreme Court.
Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi is deeply disturbed over the prospect of the release of the juvenile involved in the Delhi gangrape case this weekend. While she understands that in this case law has been complied with, which is distinct from delivery of justice, her ire is against a broadly dysfunctional Rajya Sabha where the bill is pending since May 2015.
She has already met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Law Minister Sadananda Gowda and explained to them her concern over the issue. She has also conveyed to them the possible measures the government must take till such time the amended Juvenile Justice Bill is passed and enacted as the law of the land.
“Since we have a weak law, the rapist (the juvenile in Nirbhaya case) can be released,” Maneka says, agreeing with Nirbhaya’s father who had said that the manner in which the juvenile is to be released, with job prospects and cash in hand, is like incentivising juvenile crimes. Badaun, the place where he belongs, is even otherwise violence prone.
On media reports that Intelligence Bureau has sent a report that this juvenile was indoctrinated by a Kashmiri terrorist and should thus be kept in detention for a longer period, Maneka raises a bigger issue: “I am asking what was a terrorist doing there (children’s home)? Why do you keep someone who commits Rajdroh, a terrorist, in such homes? That’s because the new law is not passed.”
There are inputs from law enforcing agencies that terrorist groups are providing the young recruits with birth certificates to place them in the age group 16-17. The home ministry is aware of it. Maneka has also raised the issue with the home minister.
People tend to forget that the most juveniles commit heinous crimes on children, Maneka says, marshalling out whole lot of statistics. She narrates crime committed at various places in the country and then poses a question: “Who do we take care of, the victim’s or that of the juvenile who committed crime?”
The juvenile who is sent to children’s home for a maximum period of three years is for rehabilitation and care. Who do I treat – a seven-year old rape victim or a 16-year old rapist?”