Amid demands in the wake of the Delhi gangrape that the juvenile age limit be lowered, chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Sunday gave her support, saying the nature of the crime should not be overlooked while deciding on the age.
"If you match the nature of the crime with the age of the person with being juvenile and non-juvenile, then I think that evaluation could perhaps help in (deciding the issue)," Dikshit said.
The Juvenile Justice Board earlier this week had declared the sixth accused in the December 16 gang rape as a minor, triggering demands for lowering the age ceiling for juveniles from 18 years to 16. The accused was stated to be the most brutal of the accused by police in their chargesheet.
The chief minister, referring to the demand of the family of the gang rape victim to lower the age limit for defining a juvenile, wondered whether it would be proper to forgive him for being a juvenile delinquent.
"The parents are demanding (punishment for the accused). Why they are saying because he was the most aggressive of all those people involved in the crime. Do we consider his being a juvenile as an excuse to forgive him? What he did would perhaps any adult would not do," Dikshit said.
The ruling by the Juvenile Justice Board could enable the sixth accused to walk free by June 4 this year when he attains the age of 18 years.
The family of the gang-rape victim had expressed unhappiness over the decision of the board and said that they would challenge it in the court so that all the accused get the death penalty.
"The family is not ready to accept that the sixth accused gets anything less than death penalty," the brother of the victim said.
Dikshit said the government would have to take a decision on the issue after carefully examining various aspects to it.
"There is an argument which says if a juvenile can commit such a crime, then is he juvenile? The other argument is that a juvenile is considered innocent as he may not be knowing what he is doing," the chief minister said.
Union law minister Ashwini Kumar has said the government was considering all available options and would take a considered view at the earliest.
The police was exploring legal opinion to go for an appeal in the Delhi High Court on the ruling of the Juvenile Justice Board.
The Justice Verma committee was not in favour of the demand to lower the juvenile age limit from 18 years to 16.