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December 16 gangrape juvenile accused to walk free in three years

Unhappy with the verdict,the victim's mother said that she was 'let down by the system'.

Written by D K RITURAJ | New Delhi |
August 1, 2013 3:31:10 pm

In the first conviction in the December 16 Delhi gangrape case,the juvenile accused was on Saturday found guilty of rape and murder of the 23-year-old paramedic student. The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) ordered his detention at a special home for three years — the maximum punishment that can be awarded under the Juvenile Justice Act.

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The eight months already spent by the juvenile in custody so far will be considered as term already served,and will be deducted from the three-year detention.

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Breaking down after Principal Magistrate Geetanjali Goel pronounced the order,the victim’s mother,who attended the proceedings with other family members,said she had been “let down by the system” once again. “What is the use of this punishment for three years? They might as well release him now… what was the use of so many procedures and hearings if this had to be the outcome,” she said. The family said they would appeal against the JJB’s order.

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The juvenile was six months short of 18 years at the time of the crime. He faced as many as 17 charges under the IPC,based on an inquiry report submitted by the police to the JJB. “He has been convicted of most of the charges,but acquitted of some,” said Rajesh Tiwari,his lawyer.

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Refusing to divulge further details,he said,“The order mentions that the merits of the case based on which the verdict has been passed shall not be made public…I feel this has been done to ensure that there is no adverse effect on the impending verdict in the other trials.” Four other accused in the case are being tried by a fast-track court.

While the police had earlier said the juvenile was the most brutal of all the accused,they withdrew this observation prior to the verdict today. “As far as our investigation is concerned,he was not the most brutal of all the accused,” said investigating officer Anil Sharma.

Sources said the juvenile will be sent to a special home. With an orange towel wrapped around his face,he was taken away by the police amid heavy security.

The JJB will monitor his conduct at the special home,based on assessment reports. “If it is satisfied with his conduct,it may reduce the custody period,” said Tiwari,adding that after he gets a copy of the order he will consider filing an appeal for further reduction of the term.

The JJB had earlier held the accused guilty of robbing and wrongfully confining a carpenter,hours before the gangrape. “However,the court has held that by serving eight months in custody,the minor has undergone his punishment for robbery,” said Tiwari.

While none of the juvenile’s family members attended today’s hearing,his mother,who is ailing,reportedly took a turn for the worse on hearing the news. “Though all of us expected a three-year punishment,the news still came as a shock to his mother,” said her neighbour.

Besides the juvenile,five others were accused of raping the 23-year-old paramedic student in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16 last year. The victim succumbed to her injuries at a hospital in Singapore on December 29. One of the accused,Ram Singh,was found dead in his cell in Tihar Jail on March 11. The other four accused — Mukesh,Pawan Gupta,Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur — are facing trial,and the verdict is expected in mid-September.

The trial of the juvenile,who worked as a “cleaner” in the bus,had sparked nationwide debates on the necessity of amending the Juvenile Justice Act. However,the Supreme Court dismissed PILs for reducing the juvenile age limit. Recently,it also dismissed a petition filed by Subramanian Swamy seeking a review on the interpretation of the term “juvenile”.

The JJB had concluded the hearing in the case on July 5 and had reserved the verdict for July 11. The verdict was deferred four times on account of Swamy’s petition.

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