One of the six men arrested for gang-raping a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in Delhi last December is a minor, the Juvenile Justice Board said on Monday on the basis of his birth certificate and school documents produced before it. As a result, he now faces correction for only three years for the heinous crime which led to the death of the woman at a Singapore hospital on December 29.
Interestingly, the Delhi police in their charge sheet have mentioned him as the most brutal of the accused.
The Juvenile Justice Board accepted as authentic a school certificate that declares his age as 17 years and six months. “He is a juvenile. The Juvenile Justice Board declared the sixth accused as a juvenile on the basis of the date of birth (June 4, 1995) on his school certificate,” said prosecutor Ishkaran Singh Bhandari.
“June 4, 1995, has been taken as his date of birth. The gang rape happened on December 16, 2012. So, the accused was below the age of 18 on the day the offence was committed,” Bhandari explained. “The birth certificate of the accused was presented to the board by his school principal who came from Uttar Pradesh.”
Assistant prosecutor Supriya Banerjee said they would now approach a higher court on conducting a bone ossification test — which helps judge the person’s age — on the accused. “As per law and the earlier judgment of the Supreme Court, the bone ossification test is done once the school certificate is not there or if there is any doubt in the birth and school certificate,” she said.
“We will approach the higher court for the bone ossification test. All these questions will be raised in the higher court,” Banerjee said after the accused was declared as 17 years, six months and 24 days old by the board.
l Do away with two-finger test, p2 Section 15 (g) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act mandates that a juvenile aged between 16 and 18 years, if convicted for any offence, can be sent to a special home for a maximum of three years and thereafter released on probation. However, section 16 of the Act also provides that a juvenile can be kept at the special home only till he turns 18 and cannot be sent to jail thereafter.
The present and former headmasters of the school in Bhawanipur at Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, where the juvenile studied till standard III, appeared before the board and said they could not identify the boy, but know that he took admission in school in 2002. The former principal said during the time of admission, the boy’s father had accompanied him and mentioned the date of birth as June 4, 1995.
Another accused, a gym instructor, has also claimed that he is a juvenile. His lawyer said that his application seeking a bone ossification test was rejected by the fast-track court. “We will now go to the high court with our application,” advocate AP Singh said.
The five other accused --- Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh and their accomplices Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur --- have been charged with murder, gang rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences, dacoity, hurting while committing robbery, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and common intention under the IPC.