The authorities need to “keep an eye” on the juvenile convicted in the December 2012 gang rape case of a young woman once he is released next month after completing a three-year sentence, Union women and child development (WCD) minister Maneka Gandhi said on Monday.
“He is a person who should be kept under watch. We can’t just let him go and wait for him to do something else,” Gandhi told reporters at a briefing.
The juvenile would complete his three-year sentence in a children home on December 15, under the existing provision of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The Act does not allow treating minor offenders accused of sexual offence crimes such as rape on a par with adults.
Asked whether she thought that justice had been done in the case, Gandhi said, “I do not know if justice has been done but the law has been followed. The law said that the juvenile could only go to children’s home. He served his sentence and is now coming out. And there is nothing we can do about it until or unless he commits another crime.”
Asked if the government was waiting for the juvenile to commit another crime, the minister added, “Yes, I am afraid we are.”
The WCD minister said she would take up the issue of monitoring the movement of the juvenile accused with the concerned authorities. “I have not done so far, but I will take it up with the authorities.”
Gandhi said that to correct this anomaly (juvenile convicted of gang rape getting released after three years) the government is pushing for amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 that would treat juvenile offenders between 16 and 18 years on a par with adults for committing heinous crimes like rape and murder.
The bill is currently pending in Rajya Sabha. “We hope to get it passed during the coming winter session of Parliament,” Gandhi said.
The law has been at the centre of a raging controversy following the brutal gang rape. It was this incident that had triggered nation-wide protests and set the stage for an overhaul of India’s juvenile justice law.
The young victim had succumbed to her injuries a fortnight after the incident.
HT had on November 1 reported that the juvenile 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.
Officials said 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.