New Delhi, Jan. 31: The Supreme Court today said the minor who is said to be the most brutal of the six rapist-killers of the 23-year-old Delhi paramedical student, will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, even if the legislation is struck down.
In other words, the minor, despite the growing clamour for prosecuting him under the regular sections of the penal code — 302 (murder), which invites the death penalty, and 376(2)(g) (gang rape) — will eventually be tried only under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, which prescribes a maximum sentence of three years in a reformatory home.
“The Act is of 2000 and you have now come to challenge it after 13 years. In any case even if we strike down the law, it will be the 2000 Act law which will apply in the present case as in criminal law any legislation will have only a prospective effect and not retrospective. So why should there be any urgency? There is no urgency, let it come in the normal course,” the court said.
The three–judge bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil Dave and Justice Vikramjit Sen passed the observation while refusing to entertain the plea for early hearing of a PIL which sought striking down of the JJ Act as being unconstitutional on the ground that it violated Articles 14 (equality before law) and 21 (liberty).
Senior counsel Vikram Mahajan, appearing for the petitioner, advocate Vinay K. Sharma, sought early hearing of the petition on the ground that the trial had already commenced and the juvenile may escape the regular law if he is not tried along with the other five alleged gang-rapists.
The petitioner contended that prosecuting the five alleged gang-rapists under the provisions of the IPC and the minor under the JJ Act violated Article 14. Further, the PIL contended, release of the minor after three years of rehabilitation violated the rights of other citizens under Article 21 (liberty) as he could pose a fresh threat to the society.
The petition said there has been a spurt in crimes committed across the country by juveniles and cited the data published by the National Crime Research Bureau.
It said that of the 33,387 juveniles apprehended in 2011, over 33,000, most of them in the age group of 16-18, have been arrested for crimes like rape and murder.
Delhi police today filed charges before the Juvenile Justice Board against the minor accused in last month’s gang rape and murder case.
“We submitted the inquiry report detailing his role in the crime and how he was allegedly the most brutal among the six accused. We have mentioned in detail how he brutalised the victim with an iron rod, his family background and how he reached Delhi from his village in Uttar Pradesh,” said a senior police officer.
According to the family background report prepared by the police, the boy had left his village in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun district and come to Delhi in search of a job six years ago. He is the eldest of five siblings — two sisters and three brothers. His father is mentally challenged while and his mother works as a farm hand.
The accused — 17 years and six months according to the records of his school where he studied till Class III — has been kept at a juvenile correctional home in the capital. He was born on June 4, 1995, according to the papers.