One accused in Delhi gang-rape a minor: Lawyer

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) One of the accused in the Delhi gang-rape has been declared a minor by the Juvenile Justice Board, a lawyer said here Monday.

"He is a juvenile. The Juvenile Justice Board declared the sixth accused as juvenile on the basis of the date of birth on his school certificate which mentions June 4, 1995," said prosecutor Ishkaran Singh Bhandari after the hearing before the board.

"June 4, 1995 has been taken as his date of birth. The date of gang-rape was Dec 16, 2012. So, as per the calculation, the accused comes below the age of 18 years on the date of the offence. Thus, the board declared him as juvenile," said Bhandari.

The birth certificate of the accused was presented before the juvenile board by his school principal, who came from Uttar Pradesh, Bhandari added.

On conducting a bone ossification test - which helps judge a person's age - on the accused, assistant prosecutor Supriya Banerjee said they wouild be approaching a higher court.

"As per the 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 was any doubt in birth certificate and school certificate," she said.

"We will be approaching the higher court for the bone ossification test of the juvenile. All these questions will be raised in the higher court," said Banerjee.

Besides the juvenile, five other accused were involved in the Dec 16, 2012, brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist in a moving bus. She died 13 days later after the government airlifted her to a Singapore.

The five accused are facing trial in a fast-track court in Saket in south Delhi.

After it is established that the accused is a juvenile, he cannot be tried like the other five accused and may be sent to a correction home. The other accused may face a maximum punishment of death sentence.

Justice J.S. Verma Committee, constituted to look into rape laws after the incident, in its report Jan 23 refused to propose lowering the legally defined age for juvenile delinquents from 18 to 16 years.

--Indo-Asian News service

rak/rah/vt

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