The police appear to be weakening the case of the Vasant Kunj domestic help by treating her as an adult and thus denying her the benefits of a minor victim.
The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) is keeping a close watch on the investigations, and a bone ossification test has been
ordered to determine the age of the girl.
The police have charged her employer, Vandana Dhir, under sections of the Bonded Labour Act. But they could have also used the Juvenile Justice Act against Dhir to reduce changes of her getting bail.
"The police must treated victims in borderline cases involving people aged between 17 years and 20 years as minors. In such cases, the CWC should determine the age of victim. Sections of the Juvenile Justice Act are more stringent and should have been slapped on the accused," Raj Mangal Prasad, former chairperson of the CWC.
The NGO Shakti Vahini, which took part in the rescue operations, said that even if the girl was aged 18 years now, the crime took place almost a year ago, when she was minor.
"How can be police so sure that the girl is 18 years old? She was subjected to abuse four months ago. She was trafficked three years ago. So, why is the police not treating the girl as a minor?" said Rishikant of the NGO.
Police sources maintained that sections of Juvenile Justice Act can be added after the bone ossification test confirms the age of girl. "We are going by the statement of the girl and sections can be added during the course of investigation," said a senior police officer.
Members of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, who visited the girl, said that even if the she was above 18 years, this was a case of violation of human rights.
"No one treat a girl like this," Vinod Kumar Tikku, a member of the commission, said.
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