The juvenile convicted in the December 16, 2012 gangrape case will be released Sunday from the “place of safety” where he has been lodged for three years.
On Friday, the Delhi High Court declined to issue orders to “extend” his stay, underlining that legal provisions under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act did not allow for detention beyond three years.
“Having regard to the fact that the maximum stay that can be directed in the Special Home under Section 15(1) of the Act is three years and that respondent No.1 would be completing the period of three years by 20.12.2015, there cannot be any direction to continue his stay in the Special Home beyond 20.12.2015,” the bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had filed a PIL before the High Court to extend the stay of the juvenile, claiming that there was no proof he had been “reformed” and that intelligence reports had said he was being “radicalised” while in detention.
The Central government had supported the plea. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain had informed the court that the “post-release rehabilitation plan” submitted by the Delhi government was “vague” and did not give observations about the juvenile’s mental state.
The bench, in its observations, noted that the JJ Act and rules contain provisions for post-release monitoring and rehabilitation. It said the Act made it mandatory for the management committee established under the Act to periodically “review post-release or post-restoration follow-up”.
The law provides for quarterly reports to be filed to the committee by the welfare officer concerned or the NGO which will monitor the juvenile.
The bench directed the Juvenile Justice Board to “interact with” the juvenile, his parents or guardians “as well as the concerned officials of the Department of Women and Child Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi regarding the post-release rehabilitation and social mainstreaming of respondent No.1 and pass appropriate orders”.
The parents of the gangrape victim, who were present in court Friday, slammed the decision. “We have lost after three years of fighting. He will walk out,” the victim’s mother said.
Subramanian Swamy, however, said the judgment “left room” for the JJB and the monitoring committee to pass strict orders. “He may be kept under watch for the next two years,” he said.
The bench also held that issues raised in the PIL regarding reform and monitoring of a juvenile before release from a special home were a “larger issue in public interest”. It asked the government to consider how to assess the mental state and reformation of a juvenile prior to release.
“We are of the view that the legal issue raised in the main writ petition, i.e., the need for ascertaining the factum of reformation of juveniles in conflict with law before they are released from the Special Home on expiry of the period of stay ordered by the Juvenile Justice Board, is a larger issue of public importance which requires deeper consideration,” the bench said.
It directed the Centre and the Department of Women and Child Development to file responses within eight weeks.
Where does he go?
In its post-release plan submitted to court, the Delhi government has made contradictory statements on what will be done to ensure the juvenile’s rehabilitation. The report said he will be given Rs 10,000 as one-time grant to set up a tailoring shop since he had trained in cutting and tailoring. It said he will require financial assistance for an initial period of about six months.
The report also said he “should lead a new life with a new identity provided by the appropriate government as applicable” to “avoid any backlash or violent reaction.” But at the same time, it said he would be taken to his “parental village” by his relatives, a
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