Dec 16 rape: Juvenile to walk free as Delhi HC refuses stay on release
The Delhi high court on Friday refused to stop the release of a December 16 gangrape convict, who was a juvenile when he and five men brutally raped and murdered a paramedical student in the Capital in 2012.
The convict, now 21, has almost completed his mandatory three-year stay at a correctional home and is set to walk free on December 20.
The verdict cancels out demands by civil society groups and individuals to extend his stay at the detention centre, citing reports that a fellow inmate had radicalised him.
The court said it cannot prohibit the convict’s release and asked the juvenile justice board to interact with him, his guardians and officials of the Delhi government on his post-release rehabilitation.
Earlier it was reported that instead of heading home after completing his sentence, the convict may spend a year with an NGO to ensure he is adequately rehabilitated and pose no threat to society.
But activist Amod Kanth said the convict would have to give his consent for “after care” by an NGO since he has served his full sentence.
HT reported on November 26 that authorities were mulling invoking the National Security Act to stop the convict from leaving Delhi or go to Srinagar – the native place of the fellow inmate who indoctrinated him.
The convict escaped the gallows because he was 17 years and nine months old at the time of his arrest. Three of his co-accused are on death row.
Just weeks before his release, the victim’s parents had approached the National Human Rights Commission pleading its intervention to stop the convict’s release.
Police had originally planned a quiet release, sensing a visible threat to his life.
The lenient sentence of three years given to juveniles also sparked a nationwide debate with a section of people seeking the lowering of the age limit for heinous crimes like rape and murder.
On December 1, Union minister Maneka Gandhi had also said she was writing to home ministry requesting that the convict be tracked once released.
Re: Dec 16 rape: Juvenile to walk free as Delhi HC refuses stay on release
High Court declines to issue any direction to continue the stay of the juvenile, who is now an adult, in the observation home beyond Dec. 20
The juvenile convict in the December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case moved closer to freedom on Friday after the Delhi High Court refused to stop his release on his completing the three-year sentence. The court cited existing provisions of the law while holding that no direction could be issued to prolong his stay in the observation home beyond Sunday.
A Division Bench of the High Court, hearing a writ petition moved by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, said the maximum stay that could be directed in the observation home under Section 15 (1) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act was three years. The juvenile, who is now an adult, will be completing three years on December 20.
Also read: Crime has won and we have lost, says mother of victim
However, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, directed the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Board of Delhi to interact with the juvenile, his parents and guardians and the Delhi governments Women and Child Development Department officials for his post-release rehabilitation and social mainstreaming.
For this, the JJ Board, which had sentenced the juvenile to three years detention, will pass appropriate orders in accordance with the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and Rules. The court in its seven-page order referred to legal provisions for individual care plan, periodic review and follow-up, social investigation and reducing the juvenile's vulnerability.
The petition, seeking a stay on the release, said the boy had been radicalised by another youth accused in the Delhi High Court blast case of 2011 lodged in the same observation home. In response to the petition, the Centre had sought extension of his stay in the observation home at Majnu Ka Tila here, till all aspects, including his mental health and post-release rehabilitation plan, were considered by the authorities. The court had also sought an Intelligence Bureau report, in a sealed cover, about him having been radicalised. The court pronounced the order in the presence of Dr. Swamy and the rape victims parents and posted the case for further hearing on March 28, 2016.
Social activist Shabana Azmi consoles Narbhaya's Mother Asha Devi at a programme to observe the third anniversary of Nirbhaya gang-rape case as 'Nirbhaya Chetna Divas' at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)
Centre told to file response in 8 weeks
While asking the Union government to file its response within eight weeks on the issue of reformation of juveniles, the Bench directed that the Delhi government be impleaded as a respondent to the petition.
The court pointed out that Rule 17 (3) of JJ Rules provides for individual care plan, reviewed from time to time by the management committee set up under Rule 55, while Rule 65 provides for restoration of juvenile to the family and follow-up action. The rule also provides for submission of a quarterly follow-up report to the JJ Board for two years, said the court.
The brutal incident of the gang rape of a 23-year-old girl by six persons, including the juvenile, in a moving bus here on December 16, 2012 had shocked the nation. Four of the accused were awarded the death penalty by the trial court, which was later confirmed by the Delhi High Court, while one accused allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail.