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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Panel slams cops for minor accused’s custody

A young photojournalist was gangraped by five men in the Shakti mills compound on August 22 .

Written by Dipti Sonawala | Mumbai | Published: December 4, 2013 12:50:37 am

The police investigating the Shakti Mill gangrape of a photojournalist were slammed by the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) Tuesday for failing to verify the age of a rape accused who turned out to be a minor.

A young photojournalist was gangraped by five men in the Shakti mills compound on August 22 .

The commission which had taken suo motu cognisance in the matter rapped the NM Joshi Marg police stating they were clueless about the rules pertaining to juveniles.

The police representative maintained that the age of the accused was recorded as 19 in the punchnama because he had himself told the police that he was 19 years old. The commission,however,said even 19 was a borderline age of maturity and the case should have been referred to the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).

“Why would anybody want to prove that he is not a minor when he is accused of rape. And even if he had,19 years is still a borderline age and the matter should have been verified and referred to the JJB,” said A N Tripathi,secretary,MSCPCR. Not only this,the accused was arrested for a theft case in 2011 and was later acquitted. He was referred to as a minor in that case too,claimed Advocate Beena Tendulkar,who is representing the minor. “In those seven days,the cops did not even bother to check the previous criminal record of the accused even once,which is the basic thing. This is nothing but shoddy investigation,” observed Tripathi.

Police had kept the accused in their custody for a week. According to Tendulkar,the accused was subjected to third degree torture during the seven days. “The accused was not only illegally kept in police custody for seven days,he was also subjected to third degree torture. In his statement the boy has alleged that he had already informed the police that he is 16 years old,” Tendulkar said. She also argued it would be wrong to reduce the juvenile age from 18 to 16.

During the hearing,the commission criticised the police for being insensitive when it came to involvement of juveniles in serious crimes. The commission will now study all documents and reports submitted and will prepare a report on the case,which will be submitted to the Bombay High Court.

dipti.sonawala@expressindia.com

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