HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

Delhi gangrape: another rape accused claims to be juvenile

Upasana Mukherjee, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 22, 2013
First Published: 00:15 IST(22/1/2013) | Last Updated: 13:51 IST(8/9/2013)

At a time when an enquiry is on to ascertain the juvenile status of one of the six accused in the horrific Delhi gang-rape case, another accused has made a similar claim, saying he cannot be tried by the fast-track court set up specially for the case.

Vinay Sharma was a juvenile and had moved an application for shifting his trial to a juvenile justice board, advocate AP Singh told reporters outside the fast-track court of additional sessions judge Yogesh Khanna, which held its first hearing on Monday.

Singh sought ossification test to ascertain the age of his client before the trial begins after formal framing of charges. The court is likely to consider the matter on January 24, Singh said.

In the charge sheet filed on January 3, the Delhi Police have given Sharma’s age as 20. He, along with four others, faces charges of kidnapping, gang rape, unnatural sex and murder. 

A juvenile offender cannot be tried in a regular court but by a juvenile justice board. The maximum sentence for a juvenile offender is three years and that too in a reformatory.

The December 16 rape has triggered a fierce debate whether juveniles involved in heinous crimes such as rape and murder be let off leniently or tried as adults.

It has been claimed that the juvenile was the most brutal of the six accused. A juvenile board is already conducting an age-enquiry to ascertain his claims of being a minor. The board has recorded the statements of the headmaster of the school the accused studied in. The headmaster said the boy was 17-and-a-half-year-old. The police are likely to contest the claim.

The media gag on reporting on the case continues, with the fast-track court ordering an "in-camera" hearing.

On December 16, a 23-year-old physiotherapist was gang-raped in a moving bus by six men who savagely assaulted her and threw her off the vehicle along with her male friend. The young woman died of her injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.

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