THE 16-YEAR-OLD accused of murdering Pradyuman Thakur, 7, at Ryan International School in Haryana’s Bhondsi last month, will be tried as an adult, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) in Gurgaon ruled on Wednesday.
The verdict was pronounced by the JJB shortly after noon, on the basis of preliminary assessments conducted on the teenager’s mental and physical capacity. The board, after hearing arguments from both sides, concluded that the teenager “had sufficient mental and physical capacity to commit the offence alleged against him and that he had the adequate ability to understand the consequences of his acts”.
The order states that the “juvenile himself stated before this board that he is physically and mentally fit and not suffering from any kind of disease,” and that “his IQ level shows that he is mentally fit, so it cannot be said that he did not know the consequences of acts alleged to be committed by him.”
The teenager, a Class XI student of the school, was produced before the JJB after his 14-day judicial remand came to an end. With the board’s ruling, he will next be produced before the District and Sessions Court in Gurgaon on December 22.
Sushil Tekriwal, counsel for Barun Thakur, Pradyuman’s father, said, “The juvenile will be treated and tried as an adult. The board has also said that the juvenile will be produced before the sessions court on December 22, and thereafter the sessions court will assign the relevant child sessions court to try the case.”
On the implications of the verdict, Tekriwal said, “Until the age of 21, the accused will stay in the correction home, which is a provision in the Juvenile Justice Act. As per section 21 of the act, he cannot be sentenced to hanging or life imprisonment, but this does not mean that he cannot be handed a lengthy sentence.”
The teenager had been apprehended on November 7, shortly after the CBI took over the case from the Gurgaon Police, which had implicated a school bus conductor for the murder on September 8. The CBI had claimed that the student had confessed to slitting the Class II student’s throat in the hope of postponing examinations and a parent-teacher meeting.
The preliminary assessment, ordered by the board in keeping with Section 15 of the JJ Act and conducted by a psychologist, found that the “IQ of juvenile in conflict with law noted to be 95 in category of average intellectual functioning”.
A social investigation report, also ordered by the board, found that the accused was “aggressive in nature”, with some of his teachers claiming that “his attitude towards classmates was aggressive” and that “he was very short tempered”.
According to the report, a few of the teachers claimed that he had also allegedly been “under the influence of liquor”. His neighbours, however, vouched for the teenager, saying he was a “peaceful and calm boy” who “played with other children and also loved them”, it said.
Responding to the verdict, Barun Thakur said, “There is some amount of satisfaction after the court’s verdict that at least our one step towards justice has been fruitful. The positive results and outcomes so far are keeping a certain amount of hope alive that justice will be served, which will also mean betterment of society in the future.” Thakur had, on November 15, submitted the application requesting that the teenager be considered an adult in the trial.
Speaking before the verdict, the accused’s father said, “We were not expecting the decision to be in our favour. There is a lot of pressure on the judiciary from the CBI.”
The teenager’s counsel, Sandeep Aneja, however, stated that they would challenge the order in the district and sessions court.