A juvenile convicted in the infamous December 16 Delhi gang rape case has been released and will stay with an NGO for some time, his lawyer said on Sunday, a day before the Supreme Court takes up a petition to block the convict’s release.
The statement came on a day Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal asked the Juvenile Justice Board to not free the underage convict as the matter was before the apex court, amid massive protests in the Capital against the release.
HT reported first on Saturday that the juvenile was moved out of a correctional facility to an NGO-run shelter on December 9 as he feared for his safety. Within hours, the DCW announced it would be approaching the top court, which is scheduled to hear the plea on Monday.
The parents of the victim, however, said the DCW’s last-minute efforts were a “pretence” and “just for show”.
“I am still hopeful that something will happen from the side of the government and that he will not be released. We have to fight against this injustice,” the mother told news channel CNN-IBN.
The juvenile, now 20, was shifted to the shelter on the order of the Juvenile Justice Board over fears for his safety outside, the sources said. After he is legally released on completion of his three years — the maximum for a minor offender — he will remain with the NGO for an unspecified period of time as part of his rehab. An undertaking has been taken from him in this regard, they added.
People of this country don't want Nirbhaya's rapist to walk free. India Gate protest shows that. Have a lot of hope from SC tomorrow.— SwatiMaliwal JaiHind (@SwatiJaiHind) December 20, 2015
“He is apprehensive about returning to society. Had he chosen to opt out of the rehabilitation programme, he would have been free to go home (to UP’s Badaun district) or anywhere he wanted,” said a government official.
The criminal record of the juvenile has been expunged as per legal provisions and his identity shall not be disclosed, sources said.
The convict escaped the gallows because he was 17 years and nine months old at the time of his arrest. Three of his co-accused are on death row.
Just weeks before his release, the victim’s parents had approached the National Human Rights Commission pleading its intervention to stop the convict’s release.
The proposed release of the juvenile has sparked a nationwide debate on treating juveniles as adults in case of heinous crimes such as murder and rape. A bill with similar provisions is pending in Parliament.