Nirbhaya Case: HC seeks Centre's reply on steps post release of juvenile

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today sought Centre's response on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's plea that the juvenile convict in the December 16, 2012, gangrape case be not released till it is "demonstrably assured" that he has reformed and was not a menace to society.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also asked the government to inform it about the measures taken, if any, regarding post release rehabilitation of the juvenile, who will walk out of the observation home on December 15 after serving the stipulated three year incarceration.

The court asked whether a management committee has been constituted as per the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Rules, is it still in existence and what are its activities.

"What are the plans, take instruction. it is not an ordinary case and requires consideration," the bench said. It issued notice to the Ministry of Law, Ministry of Home Affairs and the juvenile convict through JJ Board and also asked the government to get instructions from the committee and listed it for hearing on December 14.

The court passed the order after Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and central government's standing counsel Jasmeet Singh told the bench that while there was no opposition to extension of the juvenile's stay at the observation home, as per the rules the committee has to make plans for post release rehabilitation.

Counsel for the Centre placed before the court the reports of the IB relating to the behaviour of the juvenile during his stay in special home.

However, the court asked the counsel to place the report before it in a sealed cover. The government was responding to Swamy's petition, who claimed that there is lacuna in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, as amended in 2011. JJ Board had sentenced the juvenile three years detention in reformation home.

In his petition before the HC, Swamy contended that "no provision has been made in the Act, to provide for vicious unregenerate convicted juveniles who despite having undergone the reformation process for the maximum penalty of three year's custody in a special home, continue to be a menace to the society".

"...provision has to be made to deal with such juvenile for further period in such a manner that he does not prove menace to the society.

"The question arises, in a very acute form, in the instant gangrape case, where the respondent no.1 (juvenile), one of the offenders, who was adjudged to be under eighteen years of age at the time of the offence, is about to complete the maximum period of the offence prescribed.... and yet it is learnt that there is a report of the Ministry of Home Affairs wherefrom it emerges that this juvenile has not reformed but has become worse, having been radicalized by association with another juvenile convicted of involvement in the 2011 Delhi High Court blast," the plea said. He also said in his petition that the JJ Board should be given some "teeth to deal with such a case of an unreformed juvenile criminal".

The Supreme Court had earlier rejected Swamy's petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000. He had sought that juvenile in the case be prosecuted in a criminal court in view of the gravity of his offence.

Six persons, including the juvenile, had brutally assaulting and raping a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. The victim had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012.

Mukesh, Vinay, Pawan and Akshay were awarded death penalty by trial court in the gang rape and murder case which was later confirmed by Delhi High Court. Their appeals are pending before the Supreme Court.

Accused Ram Singh had allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail on March 11, 2013, and proceedings against him were abated following his death.

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