December 16 gang-rape case: SC rejects plea for criminal trial of juvenile convict

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Friday, March 28, 2014 – 13:59

New Delhi: In a major development, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected the plea moved by the parents of the December 16 gang-rape victim seeking its order for trying the juvenile convict in the case in a criminal court.

According to reports, the apex court, while refusing the plea, also dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy`s plea for giving fresh interpretation to the term `juvenile` in the statute which fixes 18 year as the age of attaining majority.

December 16 gang-rape victim`s parents had moved the Supreme Court seeking directions for quashing a law which bans prosecution of juveniles, accused of heinous crimes, in regular criminal court.

The juvenile, who was six months short of 18 years at the time of incident, was convicted for gang-rape and murder of the 23-year-old paramedic student but he got away with a maximum of three years imprisonment mandated under the juvenile law by the Juvenile Justice Board.
The parents of the victim, who had said the August 31 verdict of the Board was not acceptable to them, filed the petition in the apex court, saying since they are challenging the constitutional validity of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, there is no other concerned authority to which they can approach for such relief.

Badrinath Singh and his wife Asha Devi, parents of the victim, sought a direction to declare "as unconstitutional and void the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act to the extent it puts a blanket ban on the power of the criminal courts to try a juvenile offender for offences committed under the IPC".

The petition filed through advocate Aman Hingorani said the juvenile "is liable to be tried and punished by the criminal courts for the aforesaid offences, complete with the judicial discretion on established principles of law regarding the award of sentence keeping in view, amongst other factors, the nature and gravity of the offence".
They referred to the trial court verdict by which four adult accused were convicted and sentenced to death and sought similar trial for the then juvenile offender, who had now turned major.

On the night of December 16, 2012, the girl was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by six persons in a moving bus here.

One among them was the juvenile, so he was tried by the Board.

The victim later succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29 last year.

The four adult accused – Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh – were tried by a fast-track court which awarded them death penalty. Another accused Ram Singh was found dead on March 11 in his cell in Tihar Jail and the trial against him has been abated.