Pradyumn murder: Can the 16-year-old Ryan school student be tried as an adult?
A Class 11 student of Ryan International School has been detained for allegedly killing an eight-year-old second grader.gurgaon Updated: Nov 09, 2017 06:57 IST
The CBI detained a 16-year-old boy for the murder of a Class 2 student of Gurgaon’s Ryan International School not only turning the murder case on its head but also sparking a debate if the accused should be tried as an adult.
A Gurgaon juvenile justice board (JJB) on Wednesday evening gave the Central Bureau of Investigation three-day custody of the Class 11 student, detained two months after eight-year-old Pradyumn Thakur was found with his throat slit outside a school toilet.
Pradyumn’s father’s lawyer, Sushil Tekriwal, said he would ask JJB to treat the boy as an adult.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hedge told Hindustan Times that the accused could be treated as an adult “only if the JJB certifies that this is a crime which fell within the ambit of the amended JJB act”.
Set up in all districts of the country, the juvenile justice board deals with children in conflict with law. There have been several cases in recent years when the board has ordered juveniles to be tried as adults.
This has been made possible after Parliament amended the juvenile justice act in December 2015 to allow children aged between 16 and 18 to be tried as adults for heinous offences such as murder and rape.
To arrive at the decision, the JJB takes note of the age of the accused and the offence. It also conducts a preliminary assessment if the child is mentally and physically capable of committing the crime and knew the consequences of his action.
If the JJB decides against the Ryan student’s court trial, he will spend a maximum of three years in a reform home if the board finds the murder charge to be true. If he is tried as an adult and found guilty in a court, the punishment could range from death to life imprisonment.
Child rights activist and advocate Anant Asthana, too, said that the JJB’s word would be final. Advocate Meera Bhatia, however, suggested caution. “First we have to find out whether he has actually done the crime or not. Subsequently, if he is found guilty, he could be tried as an adult for the crime,” Bhatia said.
The demand to lower the juvenile age limit to 16 gained ground after one of the convicts in the December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder of a physiotherapist in Delhi spent three years in a reform home as he was a few months short of 18 at the time of the crime. His four accomplices were sentenced to death, a punishment that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
Juvenile crimes shot up by about 25% from 2011 to 2015. Cases registered against juveniles grew from 25,125 in 2011 to 31,396 in 2015, the latest National Crime Record Bureau data shows.