A juvenile convicted in the brutal December 16 gangrape may walk free a week before his three-year sentence ends next month as the Delhi government is keen to keep him away from public and media attention and the boy too fears he may be “lynched” the moment he leaves the “safety” of the reform home.
“He is scheduled to be released on December 15 but we know there will be a lot of attention on him that day. For his safety, we plan to release him a week in advance,” said a senior government official.
An early release, however, is subject to permission from the Juvenile Justice Board, sources said.
They added the juvenile, now a young man of 20, will be handed over to his mother, native of a village in Uttar Pradesh, in a videographed event outside the Majnu Ka Tila shelter home. The family will be given Rs 20,000 and escorted to an undisclosed location.
The Intelligence Bureau, which had raised suspicions of the boy being radicalised after he was shifted with a juvenile apprehended for the Delhi high court blasts, will also be kept in the loop. In a report to the Centre on Friday, the Delhi government said the boys were lodged together on the orders of the Juvenile Justice Board.
HT had on July 11 quoted the shelter home staff as saying that the boy feared for his safety and did not want to leave the home. Counsellors said he had turned religious, grew a beard and offered namaz five times a day.
HT had also reported that he was lodged with a boy who was apprehended for the HC blasts. Based on the report, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi following which the IB conducted an inquiry. The two juveniles spent more than a year together before IB intervention. The staff of the home too had requested for them to be separated.
In its report, the Delhi government has said that the Juvenile Justice Board wanted the boy to be shifted to a better room with a television set. It named officers under whose guidance the juvenile was shifted and also named seven superintendents, four welfare officers and counsellors and one nurse who were posted there in the last three years.
“It is evident that officials of the home are aware of the crisis situation and have brought it to the notice of the Juvenile Justice Board regularly for appropriate directions for keeping them separate,” the report said.
The juvenile was sent to the shelter home after being convicted in the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012 — a case that triggered nation-wide protests and led to tougher laws for crime against woman. Five other adults convicted for the crime were sentenced to death. Of them, one was found dead in his Tihar Jail cell in a suspected suicide.
This is not an isolated case where a juvenile guilty of a heinous crime such as rape and murder has benefited from benevolent provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 that does not permit treating minor offenders on a par with adults for trial and punishment.
In July 2014, a Mumbai court sent two minors convicted in the Shakti Mill gang-rape case to a Nashik school for three years to learn “good behaviour”. There are many more such cases.