Delhi 2012 rape case: Activists divided on release of juvenile convict

Women rights activists are divided over whether juvenile convict in the December 16 gang rape case should be released with some favouring that he be given a second chance while others raising their voices for stricter punishment for him.

"What happened on December 16, 2012 was very unfortunate, but it is important to note that such juveniles are used by adults.

"I think the boy should be given another chance to live," Kavita Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), said.

"Law should be implemented. According to the law, a boy below the age of 18 years is not sent to jail. He was kept in observation home for three years. Even the High Court said that the law should be implemented," she added.

Sucheta De, an AISA activist who has been leading a campaign against the juvenile's release, said, "I appeal to all to consider the facts and to recongise the real issues that confront the struggles for justice in rape cases. "The system has failed to deliver justice for most complainants who came forward to seek justice under the new rape laws.

"Yet those who rule the system instead of implementing existing laws and ensuring justice in each case, prefer to divert attention towards yet another severe law," she added.

Calling it a sad day for women of the country, activist Ranjana Kumari said there is nothing wrong in making exceptions in law in certain cases.

"Rape of a woman and murder are not juvenile crimes. If the case was exceptional, exceptions can be made in the law. Today is a very sad day for the women of the country," Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research. Annie Raja, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, said the juvenile has been meted out a "softer sentence" and the example set by his release would not act as a deterrent for the crime he had committed.

"The juvenile who was probably the cruelest of the six accused, has been punished the least. If the crime he committed was adult in nature, why should the punishment given to him be that prescribed in law for juveniles," she said.

Another activist Abha Singh said, "Juvenile justice Act Section 15 tells that no juvenile can be punished for more than three years.

"Whether he has committed murder or rape. Even if the law is changed, this accused will still walk free as there cannot be any retrospective implementation."

The convict, who is now 20-years-old and was known to be the most brutal of the attackers, has been taken to an undisclosed location from a correction home in North Delhi amid concerns that there was a threat to his life.

In their order pronounced at 2 AM, a vacation bench comprising Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit refused to stay his release, scheduled for today, by giving an urgent hearing and posted the matter for hearing tomorrow.

In December 2012, the juvenile was part of the six- member gang that attacked a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist and her male friend in a bus, where the girl

was gruesomely raped and her companion brutally beaten. The girl subsequently succumbed to her injuries 13 days later in Singapore.

The incident caused nationwide outrage and led to widespread outpouring of anger against the rapists, including the teenager.

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