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The "Juvenile" Cannot Walk Scot Free

We, the undersigned, demand that the “juvenile” tried by the judiciary in the case of the Gang-Rape that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Delhi, be tried as an adult after annulling the former trial as a juvenile.

The state of affairs vis-à-vis juveniles and the commission of crime is disparaging and requires immediate attention. Juveniles, or those aged under eighteen, make up 42% the nation’s population, and 1.2% of the total reported crimes in the country are committed by them. Within this number, 7% indulge in serious crimes that include rape or murder, which includes consensual sexual activity and cases framed in love cases and elopement, where rape is charged almost ornamentally at the instance of girl’s parents; and the numerous cases where the juvenile is found not guilty at the end. [Source: CounterCurrents]

The current legal framework addressing the trial of Juveniles under the law for crimes committed by them comprises the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 and Sections 82 and 83 of the Indian Penal Code. A revamped Juvenile Justice Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015 in the aftermath of the Delhi Rape Case of December, 2012 in which a minor was found guilty. The new bill will allow minors in the age group of 16-18 to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes. The crime will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to ascertain if the crime was committed as a 'child' or an 'adult'. 

The law as it stands, remains un-amended, and the bill is pending before the Rajya Sabha. 

While it is arguable that there is no applicability of this amendment to crimes committed prior to the amendment under the norms of ex post facto law, it is important to note that this is not the case with the Juvenile Justice Act in its amended form. Recourse may be had to the decision of the Supreme Court of India in Hari Ram v. State of Rajasthan which confirmed the retrospective effect of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 in 2009, which was earlier confirmed by some of the High Courts in India, particularly by Bombay High Court. This is also augmented by Rule 12 in the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007, which gives retrospective effect to the contents of the Act.

The case at hand

The “juvenile” at the time of committing the offence of rape and torture in the Delhi Gang Rape incident in December 2012, was 17. Owing purely to his age and no other factor, he was tried as a juvenile and was given a sentence of three years for the brutal rape and murder.  He was reportedly the most brutal, and had caused the most damage to the girl. Considering that the case has been called the “rarest of the rare” cases, warranting the awarding of the death penalty for the remaining, the trial of the juvenile as a “juvenile” and not as an adult is clearly not in line with the nature and heinousness of the crime he committed.

What do we want?

When the Rajya Sabha adopts the amended version of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, if a crime has been convicted by a person between the ages of 16-18 years, it will be assessed by the Juvenile Justice Board to determine if the crime was committed as a ‘child’ or an ‘adult’. Considering the nature of the crime committed by the juvenile, his trial as a child is unfounded.

We request that the current trial and consequential outcome of the trial of the juvenile be annulled and that the juvenile be tried again, under the new law after it is passed. Releasing him and giving him a one-time grant or a tailoring shop is not a solution to the socio-cultural climate that is filled with misogyny and crimes against women.

This petition was delivered to:
  • Chief Justice of India
  • President of India
  • Prime Minister of India
  • Ministry of Women and Child Development of India
  • UNWomen India

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