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Teen molester gets reform term

Guwahati, Dec. 26: A juvenile accused in the infamous GS Road molestation case was held guilty for outraging the modesty of the victim and sentenced to one year in a reformatory home by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).

The incident had sparked nationwide condemnation after a girl was molested by a group of people outside a bar on July 9, 2012 and the entire incident was shot on camera by a local TV journalist, Gaurav Jyoti Neog. It was later telecast and even uploaded on YouTube.

The state government had constituted a special investigation team headed by then superintendent of police (operations) Ranjan Bhuyan to conduct a probe into the case.

Additional public prosecutor Phanindra Nath Gogoi today said in an order passed on December 23, the JJB, Kamrup, has found the accused guilty under Sections 354 (outraging the modesty of women), 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt).

Gogoi said that the board had ordered his detention in a correctional home for one year.

A dispositional order of the JJB is equivalent to a sentencing order in an adult court.

A total of 24 days — already spent by the juvenile in custody so far — will be considered as term already served and will be deducted from the one-year detention.

Defence counsel Mukesh Sharma said they would challenge the JJB order in the Kamrup district and sessions court. Sharma said they were not satisfied with the JJB order as the juvenile was “innocent”.

“No doubt he was present at the spot when the incident happened but it does not prove his involvement in the crime. He was no way involved in the crime,” he claimed.

After examining 15 witnesses and evidence collected by police during investigation, the JJB concluded that the juvenile accused was present at the crime scene and was also involved in the crime along with the adult accused.

The accused was around 17 years of age at the time of the incident.

During his stay at the reformatory home, the behaviour of the juvenile delinquent will be reviewed from time to time.

Today’s ruling has once again brought to the fore the issue of juveniles being involved in such crimes and getting off, as is now the perception, with punishment that is grossly inadequate.

Lawyer Nayan Jyoti Medhi said that any accused should not get away with a light sentence only because he is a juvenile and the gravity of the offence should also be taken into consideration while pronouncing the judgment.

Child rights activist Fr Lukose Cheruvalel, however, was of the view that those under the age of 18 may look mature but are actually not emotionally and mentally developed; so if they are misguided by adults to commit any crime then they are in need of reformation and not punishment.

“Those adults who abet children to commit crimes should be punished for that,” he said. Altogether 16 persons, including the juvenile, were taken into custody by the police in the GS Road case.

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