The youngster described as the most brutal of the six accused in the horrific Delhi gang rape and murder case is likely to get away with the mildest punishment — three years in a reform home.
A juvenile justice board Monday accepted his school certificate and declared him juvenile, which means if found guilty, he will spend three years in a reformatory. The victim's family has expressed shock over the order and said they will challenge it.
Merely a school certificate shouldn't have decided he was under 18, said the father of the 23-year-old physiotherapist who died of her injuries a month ago.
“We will move court, do whatever it takes to ensure that the accused goes through a bone test and is tried as an adult. All the accused must be hanged,” he said.
The other five suspects, charged with gang rape, murder and abduction, face the possibility of death penalty. Their case is being heard by a fast-track court. One of them, too, has claimed to be a juvenile.
School certificates were easy to manipulate, senior advocate Pinky Anand said. "Simply relying on school certificates is not enough. If the ossification has been asked for, why hasn't it been done?"
The board, headed by principal magistrate Geetanjali Goel, dismissed the police's plea for a medical test to determine the boy's age.
The rape triggered a fierce debate whether juveniles involved in heinous crimes such as rape and murder be tried as adults.
The boy, who according to the police was the most savage of the six accused, will be tried under the juvenile justice act. Investigating officer Anil Sharma said the police, expected to file the inquiry report (charge sheet) on January 31, would not challenge the order for now.
As per school records, the boy's date of birth is June 4, 1995. Murder charges are rarely brought against minors.
Justice Verma panel formed in the aftermath of the case has opposed lowering the juvenile age to 16 from 18.
Anand said there were conflicting views on reducing the age of the juvenile but suggested a three-pronged approach: lower the age or enhance the punishment that can be awarded by a justice board, or let the judge have discretion to award higher punishment in heinous offences.
Senior advocate Geeta Luthra said the boy should be moved to a special home if the board finds his influence harmful for other inmates, a view backed by Anand.
On December 16, the 23-year-old physiotherapist was raped in a moving bus in south Delhi by six men who after brutalising her and savagely beating up her male friend threw the couple off the vehicle.
She died of her injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
The juvenile accused had been arrested from near the Anand Vihar ISBT on December 21.
(With HTC inputs)
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