Dec 16 minor accused turns adult today but remains 'juvenile'

Dec 16 minor accused turns adult today but remains 'juvenile'

The juvenile among the six accused of the December 16 gang rape, who was accused of being the most brutal as he had ripped out her internal organs, turned adult on Tuesday.

But there is a catch — he will be treated as a minor as far as the case is concerned.
“He turned 18 years old on Tuesday,” said an investigative officer, adding that he will still be treated as a juvenile in relation to the gang rape case.

At the time of his apprehension, he was 17 years and six months old, according to the certificate issued by his school in Badaun in UP, where he studied till class 3.

Currently, he is lodged in a ‘place of safety’ in Majnu Ka Tilla by the bank of the Yamuna on G T Road; he will remain there till the verdict in the case is out. He was supposed to be lodged in an observation home till he turns 18, but is being kept at a more secure place due to security reasons.

This safe house is meant for juveniles who turn 18 during trail. “He will remain there till the verdict in the case is given,” said the officer.  If convicted, he will be sent to a special home meant for juveniles serving sentences. “At any point of time he will not be sent to Tihar Jail,” said the officer.

In any heinous crime committed by a juvenile, the maximum sentence is of three years, according to the Juvenile Justice Act. In this case, the juvenile will give his statement before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) on June 26. “Though he turned adult, he will be treated as a juvenile because he was a minor when he committed the heinous crime,” the officer added. So far, seven material witnesses, including the victim’s male friend, recorded their statements before the JJB till May 27. “The witnesses were also examined,” said the officer.

Case history

When the juvenile was nabbed from his hometown, he had told the child welfare committee and the investigative officer that he had “done wrong” and was “sorry”.

He had confessed of raping the victim, but of not being brutal. He alleged that the main accused Ram Singh, who hanged himself in Tihar, used iron rods to torture the girl.

However, Ram Singh in the confessional statement, had said that the minor, “frustrated over being unable to rape the victim in the last turn, used his bare hands to rip out her internal organs”.

The chargesheet filed in court by Delhi Police too claimed that he was the most brutal of the six men who raped the 23-year-old physiotherapist in a moving bus.

This youth, the ‘cruellest’ among all the accused, is the eldest son of a mentally challenged man, and his mother is engaged in farming to raise two brothers and two sisters at a small hamlet at Badaun, the chargesheet stated. 

“So far, no one from his family ever came to the Juvenile Justice Board of the observation home to meet him,” said the officer, adding that five to six years ago he fled from home and came to Delhi.

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