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Delhi gangrape teenager convicted
Publication Date : 02-09-2013
Almost eight months after the December gangrape, which shook India, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) yesterday found the youngest among the six accused guilty and awarded him three years’ stay in a probation home. The family members of the 23-year old victim, however, expressed deep disappointment over the verdict.
Presided over by Principal Magistrate Geetanjali Goel, the JJB said the eight months spent by the juvenile in custody during the inquiry will be considered as period already served and would be deducted from the three-year sentence.
The juvenile was also found guilty of robbing a carpenter hours before the rape of the 23-year-old paramedical student. However, the board found that the sentence for that offence has already been undergone.
Under the Juvenile Justice Act, a juvenile in conflict with the law can be awarded a maximum sentence of three years during which he will be placed in a special home or a place of safety.
The tearful mother of the victim said she would not accept the judgment, while the brother of the victim tried to attack the juvenile moments after the verdict was announced.
The Juvenile Justice Board began its enquiry into the juvenile's role in the crime in March and concluded its hearing on July 5. The victim's friend, who is also the complainant in the case, was among the six witnesses whose statements was recorded by the court. The juvenile had pleaded not guilty.
He was charged with multiple offences including gang-rape, murder, kidnapping, robbery and destruction of evidence.
Legal experts say the Juvenile Justice Board’s sentence can be appealed in a trial court. The juvenile was six months short of 18 years--the age of majority--when the incident took place.
The verdict was expected to be delivered on July 11 but was postponed after the defence had submitted some clarifications regarding the role of the juvenile in the gang-rape case.
The verdict was further delayed following a petition filed in the Supreme Court seeking fresh interpretation of the law on a “juvenile” based on “mental and intellectual maturity” and not on the basis of age.
On August 22, while admitting the petition, the SC gave the JJB the go-ahead to deliver its verdict.
The news of the verdict today was met with slogans of “we want justice”, outside the court premises by an activist group.
This is the first verdict in the gangrape case, where a 23-year-old and her friend were brutally attacked by six men on a moving bus on the night of December 16. The gangrape victim succumbed to injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore amid massive public protests in the Capital.
Six people, including the juvenile, were charged by Delhi Police of gang-rape and murder. After the alleged suicide of main accused Ram Singh in Tihar jail, the fast track court set up to try this and other cases of crime against women, is currently witnessing final arguments in the case. The verdict against the other four accused is expected by mid-September.