New Delhi: The parents of the 2012 December 16 gangrape victim today expressed their exasperation with the legal system and wondered whether the juvenile convict in the case, who is to be shortly released, has undergone any reform.
They were reacting to the comments of Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi who stressed on the need to keep a "close watch" on him following his impending release.
"He was few months short of an adult while committing the crime and was sent to a reformation centre for this reason. But did he reform? Thousands of girls are being raped across the country. What has changed?" the victim's mother asked.
Echoing the minister's apprehension that the convict, who has turned 21, may commit another crime, the victim's father pinned the blame on the Centre accusing it of failing to improve the safety situation.
"He may go out and commit another crime and if he does, it will be due to shortcomings on the government's part," he said.
Meanwhile, women's rights activists appeared divided over Gandhi's remarks. While activist Kavita Krishnan slammed the minister for issuing "provocative" statements, Brinda Adige welcomed the comments saying the minister's choice of words may have been "poor", justice has actually not been served.
"It is not about the possibility of him committing another crime but about the possibility of violation of another person... the law needs to be taken care of," Adige said.
Krishnan, a member of CPI(ML), called for urgent reforms in the area of juvenile justice which she said will make reformation and rehabilitation possible in the actual sense.
"Such provocative statements won't help and may put the convict's life in threat in the form of societal retribution following his release. There should be monitoring, but from the point of view of whether he is being properly rehabilitated or not instead of spying on him," she said.
CPI(M) leader Subhasini Ali said the danger of the accused committing another crime "is always there" so there should be a mechanism to keep a tab on him. "Like someone who's out in parole."
Ahead of release of the juvenile convict in the Nirbhaya gangrape case next month, Gandhi today expressed helplessness in extending punishment to him and said while law was adhered to, she was not sure whether the justice was done in one of the most gruesome cases.
She advocated that a 'close watch' be kept on the accused after he is freed after completing sentence in the December 16 gangrape and murder case and said she will raise the issue with the authorities for doing so.