SC dismisses plea in December 16 gang-rape case

New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea opposing the release of a juvenile convict in the December 16 gang-rape case, saying he cannot be kept in a juvenile home beyond three years as provided under the law.

“We share your concern,” an apex court’s vacation bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said, dismissing the Delhi Commission for Women’s plea and observing that “everything has to be in accordance with law, we have to enforce law”.

“We need to have a clear legislative sanction,” the court said, making it clear that given the law as it stood today, it (DCW) could not ask for further detention of the convict, who is now aged 20.

The court’s remarks came as senior counsel Guru Krishna Kumar, appearing for DCW, said “provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, has to be so constructed that it is beneficial for society”.

Pointing out that the law he was referring to says that the juvenile convict’s detention cannot be more than three years, the court asked him which provision of the Act says it could be extended beyond three years.

“It (Juvenile Justice Act) says in no case it can go beyond three years. Which part of the law provides (detention) for more (than the stipulated period),” the court asked as Guru Krishna Kumar questioned the Delhi High Court order and said: “Can the high court say the outer limit is three years and (it) could not be extended?”

The DCW counsel then said the convict was far from reformed and there was an Intelligence Bureau report that he has been radicalised.

“Assuming the limit is three year (but)… if there is no reformation in place… should such a person not be released till reformation is there,” Guru Krishna Kumar said pointing to the provisions that in certain circumstances a juvenile could be housed in a special home.

“It only changes the place (of lodging the juvenile convict) and not the period of three years,” the apex court observed.

“Do you want rehabilitation of the child or detention of the child,” Justice Goel asked the senior counsel who said: “It is a combinations of both.”

“Let there be an independent body to examine his state of mind. Let the report (of the independent body) be given to the (apex) court for consideration, based on which further steps could be taken,” Guru Krishna Kumar told the court.

When Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand said the Centre supported the construction of law that is beneficial to society, the court remarked: “Without making law!”

As Pinki Anand said “it is on the way”, the court wondered how long it would take.

Anand was referring to an amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which provides that children in the age group of 16-18, if involved in heinous crimes, will be tried by criminal courts.

The amendment to the Act of 2000 was approved by the Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015, and is now pending in the Rajya Sabha.

“We share your concern. But the law as it stands today…,” Justice Lalit observed while nodding in disapproval on the DCW plea.

Reacting to the dismissal of the DCW plea, the mother of the deceased victim said: “All I have to say is that the plea, which was rejected by all three courts, will encourage more such crimes to be committed in society against women.”

“There is no provision (to convict juveniles) or to punish them. They (courts) are more concerned about the accused. Women have been cheated and they continue to be cheated. Nobody wants to do anything about women’s safety,” Nirbhaya’s mother said.

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