Four of the five minors accused of gang-raping a teenager at Hyderabad’s upmarket Jubilee Hills in May will now be tried as adults, a Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) said Friday. The case, in which the son of a ruling party leader of Telangana and the nephew and the son of an MLA are suspects, had triggered widespread outrage.
In her preliminary assessment order, Radhika Gavvala, the fifth additional chief metropolitan magistrate-cum-principal magistrate of the JJB at Hyderabad, said the four minors were capable of understanding the consequences of their actions. Stating that the suspects were not under the influence of alcohol or any other substance and that there were no compelling circumstances to commit the offence, she transferred the case to the children’s court-cum-court of the 12th additional metropolitan sessions judge of Nampally.
The 17-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by the five suspects and molested by another minor on May 28. They had met her at a non-alcoholic party at a pub and later offered her a ride back home. According to police, the suspects took turns raping her in a Toyota Innova car at an isolated place. On the girl’s complaint, police apprehended five boys aged between 16 and 17 years and arrested an 18-year-old named Saduddin Malik.
Principal magistrate Gavvala, a JJB member and a psychologist from the Institute of Mental Health in Hyderabad interacted separately with the five minors to assess their mental and physical capacity to commit the crime and their ability to understand its consequences. They also assessed the circumstances in which they allegedly committed the crime.
They interacted with the accused on various topics such as school life, college life, family, friends, hobbies, habits, social life, ambitions, achievements and general and social issues. All of them hail from well-to-do families, share a cordial relationship with their families and are intelligent, the judge said, adding that they had no past traumatic experiences.
In an independent report submitted on Wednesday, the psychologist agreed with the panel’s conclusions. The JJB member, in a separate report submitted on Thursday, agreed that the four boys had the mental and physical capacity to commit the crime, but differed on their capacity to understand the consequences of their actions, the order said.
While the JJB member observed that the boys might have been “lured by the welcoming approach of the victim and hence unable to understand the legal consequences”, the judge made clear her difference of opinion. “Whether the victim lured the CCLs (children in conflict with the law) or not is an issue of fact and cannot be determined at this stage. This is only an inquiry to assess the physical and mental ability of the CCLs and to assess whether they understand the consequences of the offence or not,” Gavvala said.
The fifth minor will still be tried as a juvenile.